Thus seeks turnover growth of 20% plus

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Thus, the Scottish telecoms company which was recently demerged from ScottishPower, yesterday shrugged aside tough trading conditions, saying it was targeting 20 to 25 per cent sales growth this year.

While Bill Allan, the chief executive, predicted trading would remain "challenging" over the course of the coming year, he said he remained "confident" about Thus' business plan.

"In the current year, we continue to target total turnover growth of 20 per cent to 25 per cent," he said, adding he expected margins to rise to 7 to 9 per cent from the current 1 per cent.

The new targets were laid out alongside the company's results for the year to the end of March, which beat most analysts' expectations.

Profits on an underlying, or Ebitda, basis came in at £3.1m compared with a £24.6m loss a year before. Sales were £268.4m, up 17 per cent.

But the decision to change its accounting policy, to exclude contentious so-called "indefeasible rights of use" contracts, lopped £24m off sales in the year and some £16.7m off Ebitda profits.

Telecoms companies across the board have come under increasing pressure to adopt more conservative accounting measures in the wake of the collapse of the US energy giant Enron and the ongoing turmoil in the telecoms sector.

Thus, which yesterday reported a £104.3m pre-tax loss, said yesterday that it now believed its policy on IRU contracts was "very conservative".