Flying Brands back on the merger trail

Flying Brands, the flowers-to-plants mail order company, signalled yesterday it was back on the acquisition trail six years after its last attempt to expand ended disastrously with multiple profit warnings and trading hiccups.

Flying Brands, the flowers-to-plants mail order company, signalled yesterday it was back on the acquisition trail six years after its last attempt to expand ended disastrously with multiple profit warnings and trading hiccups.

Strong group interim results cemented its turnaround, two years after its woes forced it to demerge its Stanley Gibbons stamp business. Its shares surged 10p to an all-time high of 233.5p. Mark Dugdale, the chief executive, said the group had amassed a £4m cash pile in the six months to 2 July, which it planned to spend on buying companies in the "gifts, hobbies and entertainment areas".

The Jersey-based company, formerly known as Flying Flowers, reported a 25 per cent increase in interim pre-tax profits to £3.94m on sales up 1 per cent at £20m. As well as its core airborne flowers unit, the group has a mail order gardening business and an audiobooks arm. It also sells first-day covers to stamp collectors. Mr Dugdale attributed the company's turnaround to better marketing, better use of customer databases and stronger internet sales.

Its decision to sell other gifts through its Flying Flowers unit helped profits from that division to rise by 14 per cent to £1.63m. Pot plants, personalised teddy bears and wine gift packs all proved popular.

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