Securiguard lifts results by 14%

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The Independent Online
SECURIGUARD, the security, cleaning and personnel group, lifted pre-tax profits 14 per cent to pounds 5.7m for the year to 1 November, despite a modest 2 per cent rise in turnover.

But Alan Baldwin, chairman, said the turnover figure was misleading as it did not include some branches of its City Link communications business that have become franchises but are still contributing to profit.

He attributed the enhanced earnings to aggressive marketing and improved financial controls.

But the underlying figures showed a fall in trading profit despite lower administration costs. A pounds 1m reduction in the group's net interest bill, achieved by a pounds 3.1m cut in net debt to pounds 9.6m, was the main reason behind the higher bottom-line figure.

He was especially pleased with the performance of the City Link express courier business: 'There had been some concern in the City that we were in a business we did not really understand, but this year's singular success demonstrated that we are on top of that situation,' he said.

In fact communications was the only division to show a rise in trading profits, from pounds 1m to pounds 1.3m, although personnel's loss was reduced to pounds 552,000 from pounds 703,000.

Mr Baldwin hinted that the division's days may be numbered: 'Nobody likes a business that loses money, and we will certainly be reviewing it.'

In the US, trading profits fell pounds 400,000 to pounds 1.4m in line with the group's expectations. Mr Baldwin said he saw 'a glimmer of hope' there.

'We're budgeting for a flat year and I've no concrete evidence of a recovery, but I have a feeling the end result will be better.'

In the UK, he said he expected similar growth to last year. 'We were slow getting into the recession - and in fact we never reached the depths that other companies did - and I suppose we will be slow coming out.'

The total dividend rises 10 per cent to 9.4p, on earnings per share 12 per cent higher at 19p. The shares rose 7p to 203p.

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