Rebranded Smiths News reports 51% fall in profits amid pandemic

smiths news

Newspaper and mags distribution firm Smiths News has reported a 51% fall in pretax profits for the year, as the coronavirus and lockdown hit the firm.

Revenue for the year was down 10.7% to £1.16bn, which the firm said was ahead of its revised expectation issued in July amid the pandemic.

Smiths News stable amid pandemic

The Swindon-based firm said that despite continued wider economic uncertainty its core markets remain relatively stable.

“The actions we have taken to reduce costs and the application of operational best practice, together with the lessons we have learned in managing successfully through the last eight months provides a resilient foundation for the year ahead”, it said in a stock market statement.

“Trading in the year to date is in line with the Board’s expectations having maintained the momentum from the last quarter of FY2020.”

Jonathan Bunting, CEO, said: ‘Despite uniquely challenging circumstances we have returned a strong performance by meeting all our strategic objectives, resetting our business to focus on its core strengths and deliver value for our stakeholders.

“Inevitably, our financial results were impacted by COVID-19 but we have seen a gradual recovery with good momentum in the last quarter, demonstrating the resilience of our markets, our business model and our people.’

September rebrand

The firm, which went through a name change, rebranding from Connect group to its original name, Smiths News, in September, said that sales of newspapers and magazines, like many consumer products, were initially severely impacted by the measures taken to control the coronavirus, but returned more strongly than anticipated in the last quarter of the year, it said.

Earlier this week the firm announced a £120m refinancing package.

Smiths News’ shares were trading 7.8% lower  at 26.7p following the results on Thursday.