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Express Gifts owner Findel moves from turnaround to growth

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Home shopping group Findel today said it was moving from turnaround to steady growth as its largest business, Express Gifts reported a 9.6% rise in sales and 41% boost to operating profits in its latest financial year. But the company was disappointed by losses from its Kitbag replica sports kit business.

Overall, Findel today reported a 4.8% rise in revenue to £514.7m, while pre-tax profits rose by 575% to £3.3m.

Roger Siddle, group chief executive, said: “Over the past three years we have turned the group around from its extremely difficult position through a clear focus on a series of self-help plans. The strong results we are reporting today represent a year of transition for Findel as we make the move from a turnaround phase to one of continued growth and improvement. As we look ahead, there remains significant potential for additional performance improvement to deliver further value for our shareholders.”

Express Gifts, which sells through the Studio and Ace brands, saw sales rise by 9.6% to £288.2m during the year, while operating profit rose by 41% to £30.7m. Some 86% of its extra sales came from customers who had also shopped with it during the previous year.

In 2014 Express Gifts had 1.4m home shopping customers. More than 50% of its sales were made online in 2014, with 36% of those made using a mobile or tablet device. Remaining orders were made over the phone or by mail order. But the company said that orders placed over the internet were typically larger, thanks to its range of internet-only products. Findel said that its focus on strong product value had boosted sales, while bad debts fell.

But the company said it was disappointed by the performance of its multichannel business, which operates shops and websites selling replica kits for its sporting partners as well as running its own website. Sales fell by 5.2% during the year to £66.7m and operating profits fell by 143% to a loss of £4.1m, with £2.8m set aside to cover the cost of renegotiating or leaving unprofitable contracts.

Kitbag, it said, had added new contracts with the Ryder Cup, the National Hockey League and others, but suffered as a number of its sporting partners put in poorer performances than in previous years. Difficulties with an international payment method hit conversions over a period of time, it said.

Elsewhere, Findel reported falling sales (-5.5%) at its Kleeneze door-to-door sales business, but growth of 6.5% at its education supplies business.

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