Speculation is mounting that St Ives Group could soon offload its print business to concentrate on marketing operations after it admitted it is reviewing “strategic options” for both the marketing activation and books division.
The move was revealed as the group reported its latest interim results which it described as “very challenging”. It showed a pretax loss of £26.8m for the 26 weeks to January 27, from a pretax loss of £2.8m for the 26 weeks to January 29 the previous year. This was despite revenue rising to £195.1m from £185.7m.
The strategic marketing division includes acquisitions such as Amaze, Occam, Branded3, Incite, and Hive. It has also bought two mobile marketing firms – the App Business and Solstice Mobile – in deals which were worth up to £50m each. Not everything is rosy in that part of the business, however, with Response One currently under investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office.
The division posted sales up 9% at £75.8m, although adjusted operating profits at the wing fell from £9.7m to £6.2m. However, it made a loss of £2.5m after £8.7m of charges.
In a statement, chief executive Matt Armitage (pictured) said: “We recognise the effect that the legacy businesses are having on our overall performance and on our ability to generate value for shareholders.
“We are reviewing strategic options for both our marketing activation and our books segments while taking decisive action to improve efficiencies and reduce costs and to diversify our marketing activation sector focus. This is a priority for us in the months ahead and we will continue to report on its progress.”
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