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Business directory

Financial and operational highlights

For the year ended 31 December 2018

 

* All prior year revenue numbers restated to present comparatives on a consistent basis due to the reclassification in 2018 of some items between revenue, cost of sales and operating expenses to better reflect their nature.

** Underlying is before non-underlying items which includes intangibles amortisation relating to businesses acquired, acquisition fees, contingent consideration movements, non-recurring pension costs in relation to guaranteed minimum pension (‘GMP’) equalisation and non-recurring costs relating to senior personnel changes.

Financial Highlights

  • Total revenue increased 2.3% to £708.4 million (2017: £692.5 million) despite the generally softer trading backdrop evident throughout the year
  • Like-for-like** revenue declined in both the UK and Continental Europe, 4.2% and 1.8% respectively, with the softer market being more keenly felt in the UK
  • Gross margin increased 80 basis points to an historic high of 32.3% (2017: 31.5%) due to an increased contribution from the higher-margin specification business area, as well as the benefits from early settlement discount on trade creditors and ongoing pricing discipline
  • Underlying*** profit before tax increased £0.3 million to £43.4 million (2017: £43.1 million)
  • Statutory profit before tax of £40.4 million marginally down on prior year (2017: £40.7 million)
  • Basic earnings per share increased 2.3% to 40.0 pence (2017: 39.1 pence)
  • Cash generated from operations remained strong, being 121% of operating profit (2017: 132%)
  • Net cash position at year-end increased 4.0% to £36.7 million (2017: £35.3 million), and included acquisition spend of £9.1 million
  • Total ordinary dividend in respect of 2018 increased slightly to 25.0 pence (2017: 24.8 pence)

*All prior year revenue, like-for-like revenue and gross margin numbers are restated to present comparatives on a consistent basis with 2018. This follows the reclassification in 2018 of some items between revenue, cost of sales and operating expenses to better reflect their nature.

**Like-for-like revenue is calculated based on constant currency from activities and businesses that made a full contribution in both the 2018 and 2017 periods and is adjusted for any variances in working days.

***Underlying is before non-underlying items which includes intangibles amortisation relating to businesses acquired, acquisition fees, contingent consideration movements, non-recurring pension costs in relation to guaranteed minimum pension (‘GMP’) equalisation and non-recurring costs relating to senior personnel changes.

Operational Highlights

  • Ten efficiency initiatives focused on improving operational practices and financial performance, some earlier-stage ones beginning to contribute in 2018, with increasing benefits expected throughout 2019
  • Five smaller strategic acquisitions completed in 2018, further enhancing and broadening the Company’s industry and geographical position
  • Planning approval received for the new regional distribution centre in Ipswich, with the land acquired post the year-end
  • Board supplemented with a wealth of experience throughout the year, with several operational appointments bringing significant additional expertise into the business