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Universe Grp. (UNG)

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Tuesday 12 February, 2008

Universe Grp.

Pre Close Statement

Universe Group PLC
12 February 2008


Immediate release: 12 February 2008


                              Universe Group PLC
                         ('Universe' or 'the Company')

                              Pre close statement


     New Contract wins, Acquisitions and Expansion of car valeting division


Universe, (AIM: UNG.L), the retail and loyalty systems company, announces that
its results for the year to 31 December 2007 will be announced on 15 April 2008.
The board anticipates that the results will be in line with the latest market
estimates. The board is confident that the progress achieved by the new
management team through 2007 will lead to continued growth in 2008 and beyond.


The board is pleased to report that HTEC, its principal trading subsidiary, has
won a new contract with Murco Petroleum ('Murco'). Also, Universe has
strengthened its car valeting division with two acquisitions and a new contract
win with Co-Operative Group. Further details are given below.


The contract wins and acquisitions referred to below are expected to make a
significant contribution to earnings in the current year. The addition of
in-house fabrication and service within the car valeting division adds to the
return on the business and allows for better control of equipment roll-out
requirements.


New Contract Win for HTEC

The Murco contract is for the installation of HTEC's HydraPOS software into
Murco's 'Costcutter' branded stores. The contract value is expected to be in
excess of £500,000 during 2008. Murco currently operates over 160 sites in the
UK which will now be able to carry out on-line credit card transactions using
Murco's own linked network.


Jeremy Clarke, Murco's Marketing Director said: 'This new solution has given
Murco a very stable platform enabling us to take our business forward.'


Paul Cooper, CEO of Universe, commented: 'This new contract, with a company of
Murco's stature, emphasises HTEC's position as a leading supplier of retail and
loyalty systems to the petrol forecourt industry, where modern, robust and
common platforms are required, supported by on-line managed service backup. We
are delighted with the progress HTEC is making in becoming the number one
provider of a total managed service retail solution for these markets.'



Acquisitions and expansion of car valeting division

Universe announces that it has formed a new subsidiary company to focus on the
provision of its car wash and valeting services. The new company is called
Jet Set Wash Services Limited ('Jet Set'). Jet Set will comprise the Company's
existing car wash and valeting services, details of which were announced in
August 2007, together with two new acquisitions announced today.


The first acquisition is of certain assets of AIB Services Limited ('AIB'),
which trades as 'Jet Set'. AIB is a family owned business based in Bedford and
has manufactured and installed petrol forecourt carwash, vacuum and air
equipment for over 30 years. AIB has a national service team, employing 19
people. It produces and installs a range of car wash, jet wash vacuum and
valeting systems.


Universe will acquire the stock and certain assets of AIB, for a maximum cash
consideration of £584,000 of which £434,000 will be paid on completion with a
further performance related payment of up to £150,000 over the following three
year period.


Additionally, Universe announces that it has signed heads of terms for the
acquisition of Edinburgh based WSF Services Limited ('WSF'). WSF is an
established vehicle cleaning equipment provider and will extend Universe's jet
wash and valeting services into the Scottish market. The acquisition of WSF is
expected to complete before the end of February.


These acquisitions have been complemented by the award of a new contract with
the Co-Operative Group to install air and vacuum dispensing equipment on all of
its 165 sites, with a total installation of over 330 units. The contract is on a
shared revenue basis over the life of the equipment.


Paul Cooper, CEO of Universe, commented: 'The acquisition of AIB together with
WSF will give us an excellent platform from which to build the new valeting
business line. Jet Set will operate from a modern 22,000 square foot factory in
Bedford formally occupied by AIB and will provide the manufacturing and service
capability for the new business. WSF gives us immediate access to the valeting
market in Scotland, and a strong northern service base. More than 20 staff will
transfer to Jet Set to create a significant operating subsidiary.'


'We are also delighted with the new agreement with the Co-Op, which represents
further traction with our growing customer base. We look forward to working with
them as we continue to drive the business forward.'


                                    - ends -



For further information please contact:


Universe Group plc               Tel: 02380 689510
John Scholes, Chairman
Paul Cooper, Chief Executive


Charles Stanley Securities
Nominated Adviser & Broker       Tel: 020 7149 6000
Russell Cook
Carl Holmes


Tavistock Communications         Tel: 020 7920 3150
John West
Andrew Dunn








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