But a sharp rise in revenues in the recruitment division kept BNB in the black. It posted pre- tax profits of pounds 53,000 for the six months to 30 June, against pounds 1.3m last time.
David Norman, the chairman, said the results were in line with expectations when BNB acquired ATC Chart, the accountancy and business training company, for pounds 5.25m last December.
'ATC has produced close to what we expected in the first half,' he said. 'However, the substantial downturn in the accountancy market means that the seond half of what is a seasonal business is not producing the full results we expected.
'We are anticipating a break- even situation for the full year at ATC against expected profits of about pounds 500,000.'
ATC lost pounds 582,000 on revenues of pounds 2.4m in the first half.
Mr Norman added that there had been substantial reorganisation at ATC, but more was in the pipeline: 'We've already done a great deal, but we've got further to go and it is going to take us longer than we expected.
'We remain convinced that the decision to get into professional training was the right strategic move, and ATC is well worth developing.'
Brighter news came from the recruitment divisions - NBI and NB Selection, where profits before tax and interest rose by more than pounds 500,000 to pounds 1.37m.
'Despite the overall decline in recruitment, we managed to make our business grow by increasing our market share very substantially,' Mr Norman said.
BNB's consumer advertising businesses in the regions had a 'dreadfully difficult' six months.
Mr Norman said that current trading was, in general, flat, and that the outlook for the next year was bleak.
Earnings per share fell to 0.1p (3.9p), but the interim dividend remains at 1.6p. BNB shares closed a penny higher at 52p.Reuse content