Higher energy bills prompt Center Parcs profit warning

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The Independent Online

Holiday village operator Center Parcs, once part of brewer Scottish & Newcastle, yesterday blamed global energy prices for a profit warning that saw its shares fall 10 per cent.

Holiday village operator Center Parcs, once part of brewer Scottish & Newcastle, yesterday blamed global energy prices for a profit warning that saw its shares fall 10 per cent.

Chief executive Martin Dalby said yesterday that he expects the increase in costs to the firm through energy prices and rate increases to be in the region of £1.3m in the next financial year. The company also announced pre-tax profits of £20.1m for the six months to 7 October and payment of a maiden dividend of 1.2p per share.

Commenting on the half-year figures, Mr Dalby said that: "We have had a solid first half to the year, with a particularly good summer. However, we cannot pass the cost of more expensive energy on to our customers as we can't change our brochure prices until 2007".

The company is expecting a 25 per cent increase in energy costs for the year to April 2006 as well as significant cost increases after the business rates review in April 2005. Energy costs have already risen by 9.1 per cent in the first half of the current year.

One analyst, who did not wish to be named, said: "I thought the stock looked expensive for what it was at the float. I also wondered how easy it would be to grow the concept beyond its existing set-up".

The shares, which were originally floated at a price of 100p in December last year, closed at 78p and market observers expect analysts to slash forecasts further in the next few days.

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