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Business Post Group (UKM)

  Print      Mail a friend       Annual reports

Thursday 24 May, 2001

Business Post Group

Final Results

Business Post Group PLC
24 May 2001



For release at 0700 hours on 24th May 2001



                           BUSINESS POST GROUP PLC
          Preliminary Results for the year ended 31 March 2001


Business Post, the express parcels and mail company, today announces its
preliminary results for the year ended 31 March 2001.  In summary:


-          Turnover up 8.2% to £123.7m (£114.3m)

-          Profit before tax of £12.7m (£16.5m)

-          Earnings per share of 16.9p (21.9p)

-          Gross profit margins improved from 22.5% in 1H to 23.8% in 2H

-          Total dividend for the year maintained at 15.1p

-          5 year contract with FedEx Express offers substantial opportunities

-          Strong performance from home delivery subsidiary, HomeServe

-          Management team strengthened by two senior appointments


Neil Benson, Chairman of Business Post Group, said:

'Following a difficult start to the year, which was impacted by higher fuel
prices and wage pressures, management reacted promptly and effectively to halt
the erosion in margins.

We have entered the current year with a management team significantly
strengthened by the appointments of Paul Carvell and Russell Hodgson, as Chief
Executive and Operations and Franchise Director respectively.  Additionally,
the investment we have made in IT systems places us in a very strong position
in our core markets.

While prices have remained firm and costs contained, volumes from customers in
the high-tech sector have been weaker since the beginning of this year.
Although volumes remain robust in the remainder of our business, we expect the
weakness in the technology sector will have an impact on our growth in the
first half of the year.  However, in the second half we will see benefits from
the contract with FedEx Express and the full impact of our sales and cost
initiatives'.

Business Post Group plc                     Tel : 020 7567 8000 (on 24 May)
Paul Carvell, Chief Executive               Tel : 0121 335 1112 (thereafter)
Peter Fitzwilliam, Finance Director         Tel : 01753 706 070 (thereafter)

Financial Dynamics
Ben Foster                                  Tel : 020 7831 3113


An analyst presentation will take place at 9.00am today at UBS Warburg, 7th
Floor, 1 Finsbury Avenue, London EC2M 2PG.


                          BUSINESS  POST  GROUP  PLC
         Preliminary  results  for  the  year  ended  31  March  2001

Results

Turnover in the financial year to 31 March 2001 increased by 8.2% to £123.7
million (2000: £114.3 million).  Profit before tax was £12.7 million (2000: £
16.5 million).  Earnings per share were 16.9p (2000: 21.9p).

Profit was affected by low revenue growth in the first half of the year
coinciding with rising costs in a number of areas, notably in higher fuel
prices and wages.  Margin pressures were particularly severe in the first four
months of the year but improved thereafter.  Prices in the second half of the
year improved following a general price increase implemented in September.
Management has been strengthened in a number of locations and cost control
rigorously enforced throughout the network.  These actions resulted in
improved gross profit margins from 22.5% in the first half to 23.8% in the
second half.

Operating profit margins of 9.0% in the first half of the year improved to
10.8% in the second half.  Overheads were affected both by higher debt
write-offs, particularly in the high-tech sector, reorganisation costs
associated with management changes and the withdrawal from the Eurodis
network, and continued increases in IT-related costs.

Cashflow and dividend

Free cash flows of £8.7 million (2000: £5.8 million) were at their highest
levels ever.  Working capital inflows of £1.6 million were very strong,
reflecting excellent progress made to reduce the level of debtor days
outstanding.

Net capital expenditure after disposals amounted to £4.1 million covering
property, information technology and vehicles.  Property expenditure totalled
£1.5 million, relating to the new Leicester regional hub which opened in
August 2000. Of the £1.4 million relating to information technology, the main
expenditure was on in-cab scanning equipment and customer-related hardware.

The Board believes that the decline in earnings is temporary and, in view of
the continued strength of the balance sheet, proposes a final dividend of
10.1p per share (2000: 10.1p), giving a maintained total dividend for the year
of 15.1p. The final dividend will be payable on 24 July 2001 to shareholders
on the register on 29 June 2001.

Operational developments

Infrastructure

I am pleased to report that, after two years during which we had seen a net
reduction in the number of franchisees, the past year has seen a reversal in
this trend.  Over the last 12 months we have established a new franchise in
Guildford to increase our focus on this important postcode, and have
franchised our existing operations in both Sheffield and Dublin.  The level of
interest being expressed by prospective franchisees is encouraging and we
expect to extend the franchise network further during the coming year.

As our volumes increase, so it becomes necessary to increase capacity within
our regional network.  Last summer we completed a new purpose-built regional
hub in Leicester.  Moving from an 11,000 square feet leasehold property with a
single loading bay, the new site has 35 loading bays and a floor area of
38,000 square feet.  This new site represents a significant upgrade of our
facilities in the East Midlands and also provides back-up capabilities for our
National hub in Birmingham.

Products and services

Our specialist home delivery subsidiary, HomeServe, has had a good year.  Our
contract with Tiny Computers, of which over 80% is home deliveries, has taken
us strongly into this new market which we only started to target 18 months
ago.  This market is more seasonal than most, and the period running up to
Christmas was our busiest ever.

We keep our range of products and services under continuous review and over
the coming year we will explore opportunities to expand our product range to
complement our existing premium services for time sensitive packages.   We
will also be monitoring the work of Postcomm, the new postal regulator, and
participating in their consultation process for introducing competition into
the UK market.

International

As we announced last month, we have entered into a five year agreement with
FedEx Express, the world's largest express transportation company, to act as
their Global Service Participant in the UK.  There are three elements to this
agreement :

-      We will collect and deliver parcels on behalf of FedEx Express's
       customers in those areas of the UK not served directly by FedEx Express,

-      We will offer FedEx Express's products and services to our
       customers and prospects, and

-      We will incorporate the FedEx Express logo on all our collection
       and delivery vehicles, uniforms and literature.

We believe that this represents a substantial opportunity for us.  As we
indicated last month, we expect that our activities on behalf of FedEx Express
will increase our revenues by around 10%.  In addition to this, but much more
difficult to quantify, we believe that offering the world-renowned FedEx
Express products and services to our customers will give us the opportunity to
grow our international business, and the incorporation of FedEx's logo will
increase brand awareness of Business Post.

Information technology

We passed another milestone in the development of our information technology
during the year, with the implementation of hand-held scanners in all our
delivery vehicles and the introduction of an internet-based ordering system,
Web-despatch.

The internet also provides us with opportunities to enhance the quality of
information to customers about their deliveries.  Customers can track their
parcels on-line, call up an image of the recipient's signature and, new this
year, receive email confirmation of delivery.  Our internal systems can also
analyse deliveries made for a particular customer and provide a  range of
reports to assist customers in managing their own distribution.

In the coming year we will be upgrading our customer relationship software to
enhance the overall service to our customers.  We will also further extend our
scanning technology within the collection and delivery process.

The Board

We have made two key appointments to the Board in recent months.  At the end
of February Paul Carvell joined us as Chief Executive.  Paul has spent his
career in the parcels and logistics sectors, most recently with Christian
Salvesen.  Paul has the energy, commitment and leadership skills to build on
the strengths of Business Post and drive the company forward.  In addition,
Russell Hodgson joined us in January as Operations and Franchise director.
Russell has spent 25 years in the parcel industry in senior positions and
brings an invaluable breadth and depth of experience to Business Post.

The past three years have been a period of substantial change within Business
Post, but now that the business is back on a sound footing and poised for
further development, I have decided to retire from the Board after five years
as Chairman.  I shall be handing over as non-executive Chairman to Peter Kane
at the Annual General Meeting in July.  I am confident that, with the support
of our strong executive team, his strategic vision will continue to make a
real contribution to the Company's future success.  The Board values the
contribution made by its non-executive directors and will be seeking an
additional independent director in due course.

Current trading and prospects

While prices have remained firm and costs contained, volumes from customers in
the high-tech sector have been weaker since the beginning of this year.
Although volumes remain robust in the remainder of our business, we expect the
weakness in the technology sector will have an impact on our growth in the
first half of the year.  However, in the second half we will see benefits from
the contract with FedEx Express and the full impact of our sales and cost
initiatives.

Neil Benson
Chairman
24th May 2001


Business Post Group plc
CONSOLIDATED PROFIT AND LOSS ACCOUNT
for the year ended 31 March 2001


                                                    2001                   2000
                                                   £'000                  £'000

Turnover                                         123,707                114,325
Cost of sales                                     95,064                 84,821

Gross profit                                      28,643                 29,504
Administrative expenses                           16,361                 13,344

Operating profit                                  12,282                 16,160
Interest receivable                                  404                    389

Profit on ordinary activities before taxation     12,686                 16,549
Taxation                                           3,747                  4,981

Profit for the financial year                      8,939                 11,568
Dividends                                          8,005                  7,999

Retained profit transferred to reserves              934                  3,569

Earnings per share            - basic              16.9p                  21.9p

                              - diluted            16.9p                  21.8p


Dividends per share                                15.1p                  15.1p


The profit for the financial year is derived from continuing activities and
includes all recognised gains and losses for the year.


Business Post Group plc
CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEET
at 31 March 2001

                                                       2001                2000
                                                      £'000               £'000

Fixed assets
Tangible assets                                      29,675              29,433
Investments                                              69                 105
                                                     29,744              29,538

Current assets
Debtors                                              23,700              26,362

Investments - cash deposits                           5,434               3,806
Cash                                                    829               1,695
                                                     29,963              31,863
Creditors
Amounts falling due within one year                  17,380              19,637

Net current assets                                   12,583              12,226

Total assets less current liabilities                42,327              41,764

Creditors
Provisions for liabilities and charges                1,018               1,414

                                                     41,309              40,350

Capital and reserves
Called up share capital                               5,301               5,299

Share premium account                                 9,742               9,719

Profit and loss account                              26,266              25,332

Equity shareholders' funds                           41,309              40,350


Business Post Group plc
CONSOLIDATED CASH FLOW STATEMENT
for the year ended 31 March 2001

                                                       2001              2000
                                             £'000    £'000    £'000    £'000

Net cash inflow from operating activities            17,412            15,597

Returns on investment
Interest received                                       459               442

Tax paid                                            (5,026)           (5,850)

Capital expenditure and financial investment
Purchase of fixed assets                   (4,607)           (4,417)
Purchase of own shares                          -              (176)
Sale of fixed assets                           502               233
                                                    (4,105)           (4,360)

Equity dividends paid                               (8,003)           (7,983)

Net cash inflow/(outflow) before
management of liquid resources and
financing                                               737           (2,154)

Management of liquid resources

Cash (invested on)/withdrawn from deposit           (1,628)             3,087

Financing
Issue of ordinary share capital                          25               275

(Decrease)/increase in cash                           (866)             1,208


Business Post Group plc

NOTES



1.  The financial information set out above does not constitute the
    Company's statutory accounts within the meaning of s240 of the Companies Act
    1985.  The statutory accounts of the Company for the year ended 31 March    
    2000 have been delivered to the Registrar of Companies.  The auditors'      
    report on those accounts was unqualified and did not contain any statements 
    under Section 237(2) or (3) of the Companies Act 1985.

    The auditors have yet to give their opinion on the accounts for the year    
    ended 31 March 2001.  These accounts have been prepared using the same      
    accounting policies as in the 31 March 2000 statutory accounts and will be  
    delivered to the Registrar of Companies following the Annual General Meeting
    on 10 July 2001.

2.  The final dividend of 10.1p per share will be paid on 24 July 2001 to
    shareholders on the register on 29 June 2001.  The ex-dividend date will be 
    27 June 2001.

3.  Basic earnings per share have been calculated by dividing the profit
    for the financial year by the weighted average number of ordinary shares in
    issue for the year ended 31 March 2001 of 53,007,905  (2000: 52,903,803).
    Diluted earnings per share have been calculated by adjusting the weighted
    average number of ordinary shares for the effect of the exercise of share
    options, increasing the number of shares to 53,027,619 (2000: 53,036,633).


                                    -ENDS-