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Universe Grp. (UNG)

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Thursday 28 February, 2002

Universe Grp.

Final Results

Universe Group PLC
28 February 2002

UNIVERSE GROUP PLC

EMBARGOED UNTIL 7AM ON 28 FEBRUARY 2002



                               UNIVERSE GROUP PLC

                  RESULTS FOR THE YEAR ENDED 31 DECEMBER 2001


Universe Group plc, the retail and information systems company, is pleased to
announce its unaudited results for the year ended 31 December 2001.


HIGHLIGHTS

-          Turnover up 22% to £59.0 million (2000: £48.5 million)

-          Operating profit before goodwill up 8.5% at £2.89 million (2000:
           £2.66 million)

-          Headline earnings per share 5.6p (2000: 5.0p); an increase of 12%

-          Profit before tax (after goodwill amortisation and exceptional items)
           £858,000 (2000: £577,000)

-          Final dividend increased by 4.5% at 1.17p per share making the
           increase for the year 5.4%

Ray Mackie, Executive Chairman of Universe Group commented:

'I am pleased to report the progress we made during 2001.  Our sales reached
£59.0 million and exceeded those for 2000 by 22%.

The group has begun the New Year reasonably well.  Orders at HTEC are beginning
to pick up after the weakness of the last quarter of 2001 and we anticipate
further progress in the year as a whole.  The general business environment has,
of course, exerted downward pressure on us in recent months but we feel that
conditions are improving.  We believe that we are positioned to benefit from the
increase in business activity when it comes'

For Further Information:

Universe Group plc
Ray Mackie, Executive Chairman                  020 7486 9074
Sarah Stocks, Investor Relations                02380 689200

Teather & Greenwood Limited
Russell Cook                                    020 7426 9000



CHAIRMAN'S STATEMENT

I am pleased to report the progress we made during 2001. Our sales reached £59.0
million and exceeded those for 2000 by 22%.

We expanded Master Change further and at HTEC we continued the recovery seen in
the second half of 2000. First Remit, our money transfer activity, was
established and started making transfers. After the 11th September terrorist
attack in New York we experienced relatively difficult trading conditions across
all areas of the business so the close of the year was somewhat muted.

Results and Dividend

Our Sales increased from £48.5m to £59.0m in the year, or by 22%. Operating
profit before amortisation of goodwill was 8.5% higher than the equivalent
figure last year at £2,890,000. After interest and tax, earnings on a UKSIP
basis were 12% higher at 5.6 pence per share compared with 5.0 pence last year.

The Board declared an interim dividend of 0.78 pence per ordinary share at the
interim stage. The Board now recommends a final dividend of 1.17 pence per
ordinary share making 1.95 pence for the year, an increase of 5.4% on the total
paid last year.

Divisional Review

Currency Exchange and Transfer

Master Change had a most successful first half-year. But after a strong summer
season the company experienced a difficult autumn as tourists, especially
American tourists, stayed away from Paris following 11th September. We opened a
net three new shops in the year. We now have 13 branches in Paris, a further six
elsewhere in France, and nine spread across Austria, Belgium and England.
Premises have been acquired in Antwerp and a shop will open there before Easter.

The Euro was introduced in physical form in the member countries from the
beginning of this year. There will inevitably be some loss of European
transactions, but Shareholders will be mindful that the majority of our business
in 2001 was in Dollar, Yen and other non-Euro currencies. In the first eight
weeks of this year our transaction numbers in Paris, our most important trading
area, are down 22% overall. Given the reduction in tourist numbers we
experienced between 11th September and the turn of the year we are relatively
pleased with this position. Our current task is to eliminate this reduction and
this requires a resumption of our shop-opening programme.

FirstRemitTM is the trade name of our Internet based international cash transfer
system. First Remit Limited has established its international headquarters in
Dublin. Operations in UK, Europe, Asia and the Far East are being set-up. The
system software for First Remit has been created by HTEC, which manages the
operations. First Remit has not been profitable in this, its start-up year, but
although the start of trading has been slower than we had hoped, partly because
we have not yet opened in Pakistan, we remain confident that it will make a
positive contribution in 2002.

Information Systems

In 2001 HTEC added to its capacity in several areas, in particular by our move
to a new 48,000sq. ft. building, which gives us significantly more capacity.
The first half was both better than 2000's first half and a significant
improvement on the second half of 2000. Turnover was significantly higher than
in the same period in the previous year, with growth coming principally from the
CEM (Contract Electronic Manufacture) area. The second half-year was much more
difficult by comparison; we were unable to avoid the general slowdown in the
electronics industry. The position is now improving.

HydraPOS, our point of sale system for petrol forecourts to run on
industry-standard platforms, was developed and launched in the period and after
pilot testing is now being deployed. Further new products are being readied for
launch and details of these are included in the HTEC Business Review.

Goodwill

A large proportion of our shareholders funds' is represented by goodwill. U.S.
accounting standards now ban amortisation of goodwill and in the U.S. all
companies are moving to an impairment test regime. This approach has not been
adopted in the U.K. and, on advice, we continue to amortise our goodwill
notwithstanding our view that its value is not reducing. To give a fuller
picture of the effects of this we have introduced two additional columns in our
profit and loss account. By so doing the full amount of group distributable
reserves of £11.9m can be seen and our tax charge is shown in the context of the
taxable income. I hope you will agree that this innovation is useful.

Director

Mr. Edward Tilly, a non-executive director, left the Board on 31st December
2001. Mr. Tilly served the Board for over three years and during that time he
made an extremely valuable contribution for which I thank him. We will announce
the name of a replacement third non-executive director in due course.

Prospects

The group has begun the New Year reasonably well. Orders at HTEC are beginning
to pick up after the weakness of the last quarter of 2001 and we anticipate
further progress in the year as a whole. The general business environment has,
of course, exerted downward pressure on us in recent months but we feel that
conditions are improving.  We believe that we are positioned to benefit from the
increase in business activity when it comes. We have taken action to reduce our
cost base in order to maximise our profitability. Our workforce, which performed
superbly last year, is in good heart and determined to build on that success. On
your behalf, I extend to all of them our grateful thanks.

RAY MACKIE
Executive Chairman
28 February 2002


CONSOLIDATED PROFIT & LOSS ACCOUNT
For the year ended 31 December 2001


                                              Before Goodwill        Goodwill           Total           Total
                                                         2001            2001            2001            2000
                                                         £000            £000            £000            £000
                                                    Unaudited       Unaudited       Unaudited         Audited

TURNOVER                                               58,990               -          58,990          48,477

                                                    ---------       ---------       ---------         -------

OPERATING PROFIT
Operating profit before amortisation of
goodwill                                                2,890               -           2,890           2,664
Amortisation of goodwill                                    -         (1,296)         (1,296)         (1,270)
                                                    ---------       ---------       ---------       ---------
TOTAL OPERATING PROFIT                                  2,890         (1,296)           1,594           1,394

Non operating exceptional items                         (202)               -           (202)           (233)
                                                    ---------       ---------       ---------       ---------
PROFIT/(LOSS) ON ORDINARY ACTIVITIES BEFORE
INTEREST AND TAXATION                                   2,688         (1,296)           1,392           1,161
Net interest (payable)/receivable                       (534)               -           (534)           (584)
                                                        
                                                    ---------       ---------       ---------       ---------

PROFIT/(LOSS) ON ORDINARY ACTIVITIES BEFORE
TAXATION                                                2,154         (1,296)             858             577
Tax on ordinary activities                              (753)               -           (753)           (677)
                                                    ---------       ---------       ---------       ---------
PROFIT/(LOSS) ON ORDINARY ACTIVITIES AFTER
TAXATION                                                1,401         (1,296)             105           (100)
Equity minority interest                                    -               -               -            (32)
                                                    ---------       ---------       ---------       ---------
PROFIT/(LOSS) FOR THE
FINANCIAL YEAR                                          1,401         (1,296)             105           (132)
Dividends                                               (566)               -           (566)           (528)
Dividends in specie                                         -               -               -         (2,905)
                                                    ---------       ---------       ---------       ---------
RETAINED PROFIT/(LOSS) FOR THE FINANCIAL YEAR             835         (1,296)           (461)         (3,565)
                                                         
PROFIT AND LOSS ACCOUNT AT
1 JANUARY                                              11,227         (3,680)           7,547           3,335
REVERSAL OF MERGER AND ACQUISITION RESERVES                 -               -               -           7,787
EXCHANGE DIFFERENCES                                    (128)               -           (128)            (10)

                                                    ---------       ---------       ---------       ---------
PROFIT AND LOSS ACCOUNT AT 31 DECEMBER                 11,934         (4,976)           6,958           7,547
                                                       
                                                    =========       =========       =========       =========
EARNINGS PER SHARE
-          Basic and Diluted                             4.9p          (4.5)p            0.4p          (0.4)p
-          Basic before amortisation of
           Goodwill and non-operating 
               exceptional items                         5.6p               -            5.6p            5.0p


BALANCE SHEET
As at 31 December 2001


                                                                                  GROUP
                                                                                   2001                2000
                                                                                   £000                £000
                                                                              Unaudited             Audited

FIXED ASSETS
Intangible Assets                                                                21,562              22,279
Tangible Assets                                                                   6,541               5,539
Investments                                                                           -                   -
                                                                             ----------          ----------
                                                                                 28,103              27,818

                                                                             ==========          ==========

CURRENT ASSETS
Stocks                                                                            3,045               2,921
Debtors
Amounts Due Within One Year                                                       2,431               3,423
  Amounts Due After One Year                                                          -                   -
                                                                             ----------          ----------
                                                                                  2,431               3,423

Investments                                                                           -                 157
Cash at Bank and In Hand                                                            598               1,744
                                                                             ----------          ----------
                                                                                  6,074               8,245

CREDITORS: Amounts Falling Due Within One Year                                  (7,755)             (8,386)

                                                                             ----------          ----------

NET CURRENT (LIABILITIES)/ASSETS                                                (1,681)               (141)

                                                                             ----------          ----------

TOTAL ASSETS LESS CURRENT LIABILITIES                                            26,422              27,677
CREDITORS: Amounts Falling Due After More Than One Year                         (4,220)             (4,965)
                                                                                
                                                                             ----------          ----------
NET ASSETS                                                                       22,202              22,712

                                                                             ----------          ----------

CAPITAL AND RESERVES
Called Up Share Capital                                                           1,449               1,437
Share Premium Account                                                             4,601               4,538
Revaluation Reserve                                                                 585                 585
Other Reserves                                                                    8,605               8,605
Profit and Loss Account                                                           6,958               7,547
                                                                             ----------          ----------
EQUITY SHAREHOLDERS' FUNDS                                                       22,198              22,712
EQUITY MINORITY INTEREST                                                              4                   -
                                                                             ----------          ----------
CAPITAL EMPLOYED                                                                 22,202              22,712
                                                                             ----------          ----------


CONSOLIDATED CASH FLOW STATEMENT
For the year ended 31 December 2001

                                                                                2001             2000
                                                                                £000             £000
                                                                           Unaudited          Audited

NET CASH INFLOW FROM OPERATING ACTIVITIES                                      3,857            3,944
                                                                          ----------       ----------

RETURNS ON INVESTMENTS AND SERVICING OF FINANCE
Net Interest paid                                                              (574)            (483)
                                                                          ----------       ----------

TAXATION                                                                       (863)            (290)
                                                                          ----------       ----------


CAPITAL EXPENDITURE AND FINANCIAL INVESTMENT
Investment in fixed assets                                                   (2,731)          (2,269)
Sale of fixed assets                                                             672              711

                                                                          ----------       ----------

NET CASH OUTFLOW FROM CAPITAL EXPENDITURE AND FINANCIAL INVESTMENT           (2,059)          (1,558)
                                                                             
                                                                          ----------       ----------

ACQUISITIONS AND DISPOSALS
Demerger costs                                                                  (46)            (433)
Net overdrafts in demerged subsidiaries                                            -              278
                                                                          ----------       ----------
NET CASH OUTFLOW FROM ACQUISITIONS AND DISPOSALS                                (46)            (155)
                                                                                
                                                                          ----------       ----------
EQUITY DIVIDENDS PAID                                                          (548)            (480)
                                                                          ----------       ----------

NET CASH (OUTFLOW)/INFLOW BEFORE MANAGEMENT OF LIQUID RESOURCES AND
FINANCING                                                                      (233)              978

                                                                           ---------       ----------
MANAGEMENT OF LIQUID RESOURCES
Sale of listed securities                                                        227              116
                                                                           ---------       ----------

FINANCING
Capital elements of lease payments                                             (165)             (62)
New bank loans                                                                     -            6,200
Repayment of bank loans                                                      (1,240)          (9,797)
Repayment of other loans                                                           -             (72)
Issue of shares net of expenses                                                   79              431
                                                                           ---------       ----------
NET CASH OUTFLOW FROM FINANCING                                              (1,326)          (3,300)
                                                                           ---------       ----------
DECREASE IN CASH IN THE YEAR                                                 (1,332)          (2,206)
                                                                           ---------       ----------



               NOTES TO PRELIMINARY STATEMENT FOR THE YEAR ENDED

                                31 DECEMBER 2001



1.   Financial Information

     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.   Exceptional Item

     The non-operating exceptional item is principally a loss arising on the 
     disposal of a freehold property.

3.   Earnings Per Share

     The earnings per share is calculated by reference to the results and the
     weighted average of 28,861,614 shares in issue during the period.  The 
     number of shares in issue at 31 December 2001 was 28,985,924.

4.   Dividend

     The Board is recommending a final dividend of 1.17 pence per 5 pence 
     ordinary share (2000: 1.12 pence per 5 pence share) payable on 1 May 2002 
     to all shareholders on record date of 13 April 2002, subject to approval at 
     the AGM to be held on 25 April 2002.


                      This information is provided by RNS
            The company news service from the London Stock Exchange