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Universe Grp. (UNG)

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Monday 20 August, 2001

Universe Grp.

Interim Results

Universe Group PLC
20 August 2001




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                            Monday, 20th August 2001



                              UNIVERSE GROUP PLC


             INTERIM RESULTS FOR THE 6 MONTHS ENDED 30 JUNE 2001


Universe Group plc, the retail and information systems company, is pleased to
announce its unaudited interim results for the 6 months ended 30th June 2001.



Highlights

*        Turnover up 24% to £27.3 million (2000: £22.0 million)

*        Operating profit before goodwill up 25% at £1.5 million (2000: £1.2
         million)

*        Earnings per share 2.9p (2000: 2.3p)

*        Profit before tax (after goodwill amortisation and exceptional items)
         £0.4 million (2000: £0.1 million)

*        Interim dividend increased by 6.8% at 0.78p per share



Ray Mackie, Executive Chairman of Universe Group commented:



'Universe Group plc has made considerable progress during the six months to
June 2001.  We expanded Master Change further in England and France: and at
HTEC we continued the recovery seen in the second half of 2000.  First Remit,
our money transfer activity, has now been established and will start making
transfers in the very near future.



'The group has begun the second half of the year well.  The summer trading
period is looking good at Master Change and orders at HTEC at 30th June were
well ahead of the equivalent figure for last year.  Assuming that our
expectations for the year are fully met, and subject, of course, to trading
conditions at the time, it is the Board's intention to propose an increase in
the final dividend as we continue to pursue our progressive dividend policy.'





For further information:


Universe Group plc                                     020 7486 9074
Ray Mackie, Executive Chairman,

Buchanan Communications                                020 7466 5000
Charles Ryland / Catherine Miles,







CHAIRMAN'S STATEMENT



Universe Group plc has made considerable progress during the six months to 30
June 2001.



We expanded Master Change further in England and France; and at HTEC we
continued the recovery seen in the second half of 2000. First Remit, our money
transfer activity, has now been established and will start making transfers in
the very near future.



Results and Dividend



Our sales from continuing business increased from £22m to £27.3m in the
half-year, or by 24%. Operating profit before amortisation of goodwill was 25%
higher than the equivalent figure last year at £1,498,000. After interest and
tax, earnings on a UKSIP (formerly IIMR) basis were 26% higher at 2.9 pence
per share compared with 2.3 pence last year.



The Board has declared a cash interim dividend of 0.78 pence per ordinary
share, an increase of 6.8% over the interim payment of 0.73 pence last year.
The interim dividend will be paid on 19 October 2001 to Shareholders on the
register on 21 September 2001.



Divisional Review



Master Change



Master Change had a most successful first half year and continues to prove its
worth as a high growth business. The first half is a seasonal low period but,
because of new openings in the latter part of 2000, Master Change generated
excellent profits even before the summer season got fully under way. We opened
three new shops in the period under review, two in London and one in Paris. We
now have 12 branches in Paris, a further six elsewhere in France, and ten
spread across Austria, Belgium and England.



We are keeping a close eye on the implications for Master Change of the Euro.
When the new currency is introduced in physical form in the member countries
at the beginning of next year, the initial impact on our business is likely to
be favourable. Thereafter, there will inevitably be some loss of European
transactions, but Shareholders should be mindful that over 80% of our business
is Dollar, Yen and other non-Euro related currencies, and the negative effects
of the introduction of the Euro in most west European countries is likely to
be limited.




HTEC



HTEC put in a first half that was, as indicated at the time of the Annual
Meeting, both better than last years' first half and a significant improvement
on the second half of 2000. Turnover was 17% higher than the same period a
year ago, with growth coming principally from the CEM (Contract Electronic
Manufacture) area. Payment/Loyalty Systems and Data Handling were level. We
added to our capacity in several areas in the period. These improved results
were achieved in spite of the disruption caused by our move to a new 48,000
sq. ft. building, which gives us significantly more capacity than the old.



HydraPOS, a point of sale system for petrol forecourts to run on
industry-standard platforms, was developed and launched in the period and the
first two installations were completed in June.



First Remit



FirstRemitTM is the trade name of our new Internet based international cash
transfer system.



This new business was alluded to at the AGM in April. In the short period
since then the system software for First Remit has been created by HTEC which
will manage the operations. First Remit Limited has established its
international headquarters in Dublin. Operations in UK, Europe, Asia and the
Far East are being established.



First Remit will not be profitable in this, its start-up year, but we are
confident that it will make a contribution to profits next year.





Prospects



The group has begun the second half of the year well. The summer trading
period is looking good at Master Change and orders at HTEC at 30th June were
well ahead of the equivalent figure for last year. Assuming that our
expectations for the year are fully met, and subject, of course, to trading
conditions at the time, it is the Board's intention to propose an increase in
the final dividend as we continue to pursue our progressive dividend policy.



I look ahead with confidence.





RAY MACKIE

Executive Chairman

20 August 2001






CONSOLIDATED PROFIT & LOSS ACCOUNT (UNAUDITED)

for six months ended 30 June 2001


                                                Six months  Six months  Year to
                                                        to          to
                                                 June 2001   June 2000     Dec.
                                                                           2000
                                                      £000        £000     £000

Turnover                                            27,281      21,963   48,477

Operating Profit
Operating profit before amortisation of
goodwill                                             1,498       1,194    2,664
Amortisation of goodwill                             (648)       (590)  (1,270)
                                             ------------ ------------ ---------
Total operating profit                                 850         604    1,394

Exceptional items                                    (155)       (228)    (233)
Interest receivable and similar income                  15          40       53
Interest payable and similar charges                 (279)       (305)    (637)
                                             ------------ ------------ ---------

Profit on ordinary activities before tax               431         111      577
Tax on ordinary activities                           (405)       (280)    (677)
                                             ------------ ------------ ---------
Profit/(Loss) on ordinary activities after tax          26       (169)    (100)

Equity minority interest                                 -           -     (32)
                                             ------------ ------------ ---------
Profit/(Loss) for the financial period                  26       (169)    (132)

Dividend payable                                     (227)       (207)    (528)
Dividend in specie                                       -     (2,905)  (2,905)
                                             ------------ ------------ ---------
Result for the financial period                      (201)     (3,281)  (3,565)
Profit and Loss account at 1 January                 7,547       3,335    3,335
Reversal of merger and acquisition reserves              -       7,767    7,787
Exchange differences                                  (15)           -     (10)
                                             ------------ ------------ ---------
Profit and Loss account at period end                7,331       7,821    7,547
                                                  ========     =======   ======


Earnings per share (pence)
Basic and Diluted                                      0.1       (0.6)    (0.4)
Basic before amortisation of goodwill and
exceptional items                                      2.9         2.3      5.0









CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEET (UNAUDITED)

as at 30 June 2001


                                            30 June   30 June  31 December 2000
                                               2001      2000
                                               £000      £000              £000

FIXED ASSETS

Intangible assets                            21,631    22,990            22,279
Tangible assets                               5,854     4,081             5,539
                                           --------  --------       -----------
                                             27,485    27,071            27,818

CURRENT ASSETS

Stocks                                        3,819     2,337             2,921
Debtors                                       4,764     3,861             3,423
Investments                                       -       247               157
Cash at bank                                    145       714             1,744
                                           --------  --------       -----------
                                              8,728     7,159             8,245

CREDITORS
Amounts falling due within one year         (9,681)   (6,831)           (8,386)
Net current (liabilities)/assets              (953)       328             (141)
                                           --------  --------       -----------
Total assets less current liabilities        26,532    27,399            27,677

CREDITORS
Amounts falling due after more one year     (3,961)   (5,131)           (4,965)
                                           --------  --------       -----------

Net assets                                   22,571    22,268            22,712
                                             ======    ======           =======

CAPITAL AND RESERVES
Called up share capital                       1,449     1,417             1,437
Share premium account                         4,601     4,872             4,538
Revaluation reserves                            585         -               585
Other reserves                                8,605     8,158             8,605
Profit and loss account                       7,331     7,821             7,547
                                           --------  --------       -----------
Equity shareholders' funds                   22,571    22,268            22,712
                                             ======    ======           =======




CONSOLIDATED CASH FLOW STATEMENT (unaudited)

for six months ended 30 June 2001


                                          Six months to  Six months to  Year to
                                              June 2001      June 2000
                                                                       December
                                                                           2000
                                                   £000           £000     £000

Net cash inflow from operating                    1,099             40    3,944
activities

RETURNS FROM INVESTMENTS AND SERVICING
OF FINANCE
Interest received                                    15             40       53
Interest paid                                     (308)          (213)    (536)
                                           ------------   ------------ ---------
Net cash outflow from returns on
investments and servicing of finance              (293)          (173)    (483)
                                           ------------   ------------ ---------
Tax paid                                          (588)          (175)    (290)

CAPITAL EXPENDITURE AND FINANCIAL
INVESTMENT
Purchase of tangible fixed assets               (1,199)        (1,053)  (2,269)
Purchase of intangible fixed assets                   -           (13)        -
Sale of tangible and intangible fixed                 -            360      711
assets
                                           ------------   ------------
---------Net cash outflow from capital
expenditure and financial investment            (1,199)          (706)  (1,558)
                                           ------------   ------------ ---------
DISPOSALS
Costs of de-merger                                    -          (428)    (433)
Net overdrafts in demerged subsidiaries               -          2,147      278
                                           ------------   ------------
---------Net cash inflow/(outflow) from disposals              -          1,719 
  (155)
                                           ------------   ------------ ---------
Equity dividends paid                             (321)          (273)    (480)
                                           ------------   ------------
---------Net cash flow before management of
liquid resources and financing                  (1,302)            432      978
                                           ------------   ------------
---------Management of liquid resources
Sale of listed securities                           225              -      116

FINANCING
Capital elements of lease payments                 (52)           (30)     (62)
New bank loans                                        -          6,200    6,200
Repayment of bank loans                         (1,240)        (9,797)  (9,797)
Repayment of other loans                              -           (72)     (72)
Issue of shares net of expenses                      75            271      431
                                           ------------    -----------
---------Net cash outflow from financing                 (1,217)        (3,428) 
(3,300)
                                           ------------    -----------
---------(Decrease) in cash in period                    (2,294)        (2,996) 
(2,206)
                                               ========        =======  =======




NOTES TO INTERIM ACCOUNTS FOR SIX MONTHS ENDED 30 JUNE 2001



1.         Publication of non-statutory accounts

These statements do not constitute accounts as defined by Section 240 of the
companies Act 1985.



The financial information for the full preceding year is based on the
statutory accounts for the financial year ended 31 December 2000. Those
accounts, on which the auditors issued an unqualified opinion, have been
delivered to the Registrar of Companies.



2.         Basis of preparation of interim financial information

The interim financial information has been prepared on the basis of accounting
policies set out in the Group's statutory accounts for the year ended 31
December 2000.



3.         The exceptional item is a loss arising on the disposal of a
freehold property on 2 July 2001.



4.         The earnings per share is calculated by reference to the results
and the weighted average of 28,737,305 shares in issue during the period. The
number of shares in issue at 30 June 2001 was 28,985,924.



5.         The tax charge is 35% of profits before goodwill and exceptional
items and is the estimated effective rate for the year.



6.         The Board has declared an interim dividend of 0.78 pence per 5
pence ordinary share (2000: 0.73 pence per 5 pence share) payable on 19
October 2001 to all shareholders on record date of 21 September 2001.