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Portsmouth to widen publishing interests

Portsmouth & Sunderland, the publisher and retail group, is preparing to hit the acquisition trail now its period of heavy investment in printing facilities and shops is at an end.

The newspaper group said yesterday it was looking to expand in retailing and publishing, but warned it would not overpay for regional newspapers. Charles Brims, chief executive of Portsmouth & Sunderland, said: "We'd like to make acquisitions in publishing and retailing if the right opportunity comes along at the right price."

He said he would identify opportunities to buy individual titles or entire publishing companies, but only in adjacent areas where cost-savings could be made. Over the past two years Portsmouth has spent pounds 45m on printing presses and opening branches of its One Stop Community Shops.

Underlying profits before tax were up 3.3 per cent to pounds 9.3m in the year to the end of March. The previous year's profits of pounds 18.6m were flattered by the pounds 9.9m gain from the sale of the Croydon Advertiser Group.