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Universe Grp. (UNG)

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Friday 09 September, 2005

Universe Grp.

Interim Results

Universe Group PLC
09 September 2005

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
9 September 2005

                               UNIVERSE GROUP PLC
                           UNAUDITED INTERIM RESULTS
                     FOR THE SIX MONTHS ENDED 30 JUNE 2005

Universe Group plc ('Universe' or the 'Company'), the retail and information
systems company, is pleased to announce its Interim Results for the six months
ended 30 June 2005.

Highlights:

•   Continuing turnover of £14.7 million (2004:  £11.0 million)

•   Operating profit on continuing business £1,229,000 (2004: £757,000)

•   Profit before tax £482,000 (2004:  loss of £224,000)

•   Adjusted earnings per share 1.45p (2004:  0.84p)

•   Sale of First Remit completed on 12 August 2005

•   Unchanged interim dividend of 0.25p

•   Appointment of Bishopsgate Communications Ltd as Financial and Corporate PR.



Commenting, Ray Mackie, Executive Chairman of Universe said:

'In the first half of 2005 we achieved an operating profit on our continuing
business and before exceptional items which was 62.3% higher than last year.  In
the main this was the result of an excellent performance at HTEC.  Continuing
operating profits before exceptional items were £1,229,000 compared to £757,000
for the first half of last year on a like for like basis.  Our continuing
business is that of HTEC and the Paris shops of Master Change'.

'The medium term prospects for HTEC are excellent although the second half will
be quieter.  With its shop closure programme completed there are signs that the
Paris shops will put in a strong performance for Master Change.'

Enquiries:

Universe Group plc
Ray Mackie, Executive Chairman                  02380 689510

Charles Stanley & Co Limited
Russell Cook                                    020 7739 8200

Bishopsgate Communications Ltd
Dominic Barretto, Maxine Barnes                 020 7430 1600




Chairman's Statement

In the first half of 2005 we achieved an operating profit on our continuing
business and before exceptional items which was 62.3% higher than last year.  In
the main this was the result of an excellent performance at HTEC.  Continuing
operating profits before exceptional items were £1,229,000 compared to £757,000
for the first half of last year on a like for like basis.  Our continuing
business is that of HTEC and the Paris shops of Master Change.

Results and Dividend

Our sales on continuing business were £14.7million against £11.0million for the
comparable period last year.  On this figure we achieved a profit before tax of
£175,000 after exceptional charges of £294,000 and discontinued business losses
of £453,000.  Our earnings per share on continuing business are 1.45 pence per
share compared to 0.84 pence last year on a comparable basis.  This is based on
adjusted earnings of £887,000 (2004 - £496,000).   Our accounts will be prepared
under IFRS from 1 January 2005.   We will pay an interim dividend of 0.25 pence
per share (2004 - 0.25 pence per share).

Retail and Information Systems

HTEC had a very busy first half.  Sales showed a significant increase over the
previous year to ASDA, Morrisons and PayPoint.

Taking each of our main HTEC product areas in turn we see excellent prospects
although development cycles mean that the second half will not see the strong
growth seen in the first half.

HydraPOS

HydraPOS is now in operation throughout ASDA and Morrisons and to some degree in
use at Somerfield and Murco.  Other operators, notably Spar in England and
Anglia Co-op, are currently evaluating the system.  The HydraPOS, with Toshiba
TEC, is the platform for the successful Morrisons Miles on-line loyalty
programme.

Hydra OPT

The Hydra Outdoor Payment Terminal, the first fully approved OPT for use with
Chip & PIN for petrol pumps, is in use at ASDA.  Important relationships have
been established with pump providers and this will lead to further Hydra OPT
installations.  This is a very exciting extension to our business.

Gemini

Gemini has been developed to operate Chip & PIN with the Gemini Intelligent
PINpad and this process has been difficult and drawn out.  As with many PINpad
providers we are experiencing teething difficulties but I am certain our close
working relationship with the main Gemini customers will assist us to overcome
these.

On-Line Services

HTEC has created a number of on-line products which will lead to profitable
growth.  I have already mentioned our on-line loyalty business with Morrisons
and others.  Of equal importance is our Virtual Back Office which enables
managers to control their petrol forecourts (and the same applies in other
business fields) from wherever they have an internet connection giving them
access to real time data collection and the flexibility to generate reports in
any format.

Other Services

Our engineering field service has been so busy we have needed to employ an
additional resource on a contract basis.  This has constrained our margins but
has been a way of coping with our expansion without increasing our cost base for
the longer term.

Currency Division

There have been big changes in this Division.  The most important one is the
sale (on 12 August 2005) of the First Remit business to Travelex Money Transfer
Ltd ('TMT').  It had become apparent that the business required further
investment and TMT is able to integrate the business on to its own.   At Master
Change we closed all our remaining bureaux outside of Paris.  These were in
London, Vienna and Strasbourg.  We now trade, profitably, from our Paris shops
only.

Prospects

The medium term prospects for HTEC are excellent although the second half will
be quieter.  With its shop closure programme completed there are signs that the
Paris shops will put in a strong performance for Master Change.

Ray Mackie
Executive Chairman
9 September 2005



Group Income Statement (unaudited)
for the six months ended 30 June 2005

                                                              Six months        Restated        Restated
                                                                 to June      Six months         Year to
                                                                    2005         to June   December 2004
                                                                                    2004
                                                                   £'000           £'000           £'000

Turnover
Continuing                                                        14,662          10,970          25,801
Discontinued                                                       7,640           9,379          18,191
                                                           -------------   -------------   -------------
                                                                  22,302          20,349          43,992
                                                           -------------   -------------   -------------

Operating profit
Continuing                                                         1,229             757           2,391
Discontinued                                                       (453)           (454)           (955)
Operating exceptional items                                        (294)           (266)           (905)
                                                           -------------   -------------   -------------

Operating profit before interest and taxation                        482              37             531

Net financial expense                                              (307)           (261)           (605)
                                                           -------------   -------------   -------------
Profit/(loss) before taxation                                        175           (224)            (74)

Income tax expenses                                                 (35)               0            (13)
                                                           -------------   -------------   -------------
Profit/(loss) attributable to equity holders                         140           (224)            (87)
                                                           =============   =============   =============

Earnings/(loss) per share (pence)
Basic and diluted                                                   0.23          (0.38)          (0.10)
Adjusted before exceptional items, and discontinued
operations                                                          1.45            0.84            2.96
                                                                    


Group Balance Sheet (unaudited)
as at 30 June 2005

                                                                             Restated            Restated
                                                          30 June             30 June         31 December
                                                             2005                2004                2004
                                                             £000                £000                £000

Non-current assets
Intangible assets                                          22,198              22,386              22,599
Property, planet and equipment                              4,961               5,578               5,200
                                                 ----------------    ----------------    ----------------
                                                           27,159              27,964              27,799
                                                 ----------------    ----------------    ----------------
Current assets
Inventories                                                 2,613               3,013               3,012
Receivables                                                 2,853               2,247               3,005
Cash and cash equivalents                                     261                 265                 250
                                                 ----------------    ----------------    ----------------
                                                            5,727               5,525               6,267

Current liabilities                                       (5,890)             (6,249)             (6,606)
                                                 ----------------    ----------------    ----------------

Net current liabilities                                     (163)               (724)               (339)
                                                 ----------------    ----------------    ----------------
Total assets less current liabilities                      26,996              27,240              27,460
                                                 ----------------    ----------------    ----------------
Non-current liabilities                                   (1,964)             (2,338)             (2,349)
                                                 ----------------    ----------------    ----------------
Net assets                                                 25,032              24,902              25,111
                                                 ----------------    ----------------    ----------------
Capital and reserves
Called up share capital                                     3,063               3,053               3,053
Share premium account                                       9,604               9,584               9,576
Other reserves                                              8,980               8,955               8,942
Retained earnings                                           3,385               3,308               3,540
                                                 ----------------    ----------------    ----------------
Reconciliation of closing equity                           
shareholders' funds                                        25,032              24,900              25,111

Equity minority interest                                        -                   2                   -
                                                 ================     ===============    ================
Total equity                                               25,032              24,902              25,111
                                                 ================     ===============    ================


Reconciliation of closing equity shareholders' funds

                              Share Capital   Share Premium  Other Reserves        Retained
                                                                                   Earnings
                                                                                                     Total
                                       £000            £000            £000            £000           £000

At 1 January 2005                     3,053           9,576           8,942           3,540         25,111
Shares issued                            10              28              38               -             76
Profit for period                         -               -               -             140            140
Exchange differences                      -               -               -              10             10
Dividends declared                        -               -               -           (305)          (305)
                               ------------    ------------    ------------    ------------   ------------
At 30 June 2005                       3,063           9,604           8,980           3,385         25,032
                               ============    ============    ============    ============   ============


At 1 January 2004                     2,931           9,155           9,035           4,349         25,470
Shares issued                           122             429            (80)               -            471
Profit for period                         -               -               -           (224)          (224)
Exchange differences                      -               -               -           (318)          (318)
Dividends declared                        -               -               -           (499)          (499)
                               ------------    ------------    ------------    ------------   ------------
At 30 June 2004                       3,053           9,584           8,955           3,308         24,900
                               ============    ============    ============    ============   ============


Group Cash Flow Statement (unaudited)
for the six months ended 30 June 2005

                                                              Six months       Six months       Year to 31
                                                              to 30 June       to 30 June    December 2004
                                                                    2005             2004
                                                                   £'000            £'000            £'000

Cash flows from operating activities
Operating profit                                                     482               37              531
Depreciation and amortisation                                        906              372            1,444
Loss on disposal of fixed assets                                     251                -              193
Movement in working capital                                          539            (154)             (64)
Interest paid                                                      (266)            (220)            (524)
Dividends paid                                                     (191)            (228)            (608)
Tax paid                                                               -             (27)             (29)
                                                          --------------   --------------   --------------
Net cash inflow/(outflow) from operating activities                1,721            (220)              943
                                                          --------------   --------------   --------------
Cash flows from investing activities
Purchase of tangible fixed assets                                   (68)            (226)            (449)
Purchase of intangible fixed assets                                (202)                -          (1,252)
Sale of tangible fixed assets                                          -              171              269
Acquisitions                                                           -                -              (2)
                                                          --------------   --------------   --------------
Net cash outflow from investing activities                         (270)             (55)          (1,434)
                                                          --------------   --------------   --------------
Cash flow from financing activities
Capital elements of lease payments                                 (328)            (218)            (372)
Repayment of loans                                                 (786)            (228)            (311)
Issue of shares net of expenses                                        -              403              433
Other new loans                                                        -              589            1,155
                                                          --------------   --------------   --------------
Net cash (outflow)/inflow from financing                         (1,114)              546              905
                                                          --------------   --------------   --------------
Increase in cash in period                                           337              271              414
                                                          --------------   --------------   --------------

                                                              Six months       Six months       Year to 31
                                                              to 30 June       to 30 June    December 2004
                                                                    2005             2004
                                                                   £'000            £'000            £'000
Reconciliation of movement in net debt

Increase in cash in period                                           337              271              414
Cash inflow/(outflow) from movement in debt
and lease financing                                                1,165             (96)            (310)
                                                          --------------   --------------   --------------
Changes in net debt resulting from cash flows                      1,502              175              104
New finance leases                                                 (247)            (115)            (138)
Exchange differences                                                   -                -             (13)
Loan issue costs                                                    (41)            (120)            (162)
                                                          --------------   --------------   --------------
Movement in net debt                                               1,214             (60)            (209)
Net debt at 1 January                                            (4,584)          (4,375)          (4,375)
                                                          ==============   ==============   ==============
Net debt at 30 June                                              (3,370)          (4,435)          (4,584)
                                                          ==============   ==============   ==============


Notes to Interim financial statements for six months ended 30 June 2005

1.       The annual financial statements of the company for the year ended 31
December 2005 will be prepared in accordance with the International Financial
Reporting Standards (IFRS).  Accordingly, the interim financial report has been
prepared using accounting policies consistent with IFRS.

2.       These interim financial statements are presented in accordance with
IASI, Presentation of Financial Statements. Where no definitive guidance exists
in respect of presentation, a UK GAAP approach has been followed to maintain
consistency with prior years. Further IFRS information is given overleaf.

3.       The half year results were neither audited nor reviewed by the
auditors.  The full year figures for 2004 do not constitute statutory accounts
for the purposes of section 240 of the Companies Act 1985.  A copy of the
statutory accounts for that year under UK Generally Accepted Accounting Practice
(UK GAAP), and upon which the auditors issued a qualified opinion, have been
delivered to the Registrar of Companies. Those accounts did not contain a
statement under section 237 (2) or (3).  The comparatives as presented for 31
December 2004 which were previously presented under UK GAAP are presented under
IFRS within this interim report.

4.       The interim report will be circulated to all shareholders and copies
will be available from the Company's head & registered office: Southampton
International Park, Southampton, SO18 2RX.

5.       The board has declared an interim dividend of 0.25 pence per 5 pence
ordinary share ( 2004 :0.25 pence per 5 pence share) payable on 16 January 2006
to all shareholders on the register on 2 December 2005.

6.       The earnings per share is calculated by reference to the results and
the weighted average of 61,143,057 shares in issue during the period.  The
number of shares in issue at 30 June 2005 was 61,253,690.

7.       The tax charge, after an adjustment for a prior period, is 20% of
profits and is the estimated effective rate for the year.

Comparative data restated in accordance with the transition to IFRS (unaudited)

Introduction

From 1 January 2005, the Group is reporting its results in accordance with
International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).  The transition date is 1
January 2004.  The comparative data in this report has been restated
accordingly.

To comply with the requirements of reporting the first set of interim results
following transition to IFRS, a reconciliation of profit under UK GAAP for the 6
months to 30 June 2004 to the income under IFRS for the 6 months to 30 June 2004
is set out below.  A summary of the differences between UK GAAP and IFRS that
led to the adjustments are also set out below.

IFRS also requires a reconciliation of equity under UK GAAP at 30 June 2004 to
equity under IFRS at 30 June 2004.  This is also set out below.

Further reconciliations are included below.  These are:

  • A reconciliation of retained loss under UK GAAP for the year to 31
    December 2004 to the retained loss under IFRS for the year to 31 December
    2004
  • A reconciliation of equity at 1 January 2004 under UK GAAP to 1 January
    2004 under IFRS
  • A reconciliation of equity at 31 December 2004 under UK GAAP to 31
    December 2004 under IFRS

IFRS Adjustments

Under UK GAAP, the dividend charge was recognised in the profit and loss account
in the period to which it related. Under IFRS the dividend charge is not
recognised in the income statement but is recognised directly in equity in the
period it is declared.

The comparative data restated in accordance with the transition to IFRS is:

                                                                         31 December 2004                  1
                                                          30 June 2004               £000       January 2004
                                                                  £000                                  £000
Group income statement
Retained loss for the financial period under UK
GAAP                                                             (377)              (545)
Dividends payable                                                  153                458
                                                       ---------------    ---------------
Loss attributable to equity holders                              (224)               (87)
                                                       ---------------    ---------------

Balance Sheet Adjustments
Creditors: Amounts fully due within the year under
UK GAAP                                                        (6,402)            (6,911)
Dividends payable                                                  153                305
                                                       ---------------    ---------------
Revised figure under IFRS                                      (6,249)            (6,606)
                                                       ---------------    ---------------
Profit and loss account under UK GAAP                            3,155              3,295
Dividends payable                                                  153                305
                                                       ---------------    ---------------
Retained earnings under IFRS                                     3,308              3,540
                                                       ---------------    ---------------

Reconciliation of equity including retained
earnings
Total equity under UK GAAP                                      24,749             24,806             24,971
Dividends payable                                                  153                305                499
                                                       ---------------    ---------------    ---------------
Total equity under IFRS                                         24,902             25,111             25,470
                                                       ---------------    ---------------    ---------------

Exemptions

In preparing this financial information the Group has taken permitted IFRSI
first time adoption exemptions as follows:

  • Business combinations prior to the transition date have not been restated
    as no significant acquisitions have taken place in the past five years.
  • IFRS2 (share-based payments) has been applied only to awards made after 7
    November 2002.

Other permitted exemptions are not applicable to the company.


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