St Ives blessed by Bibles

BIBLES, Mr Blobby's hit single and French privatisations were among the explanations for higher interim profits at St Ives. The printing group made pounds 11.6m before tax and exceptional items in the half year to 28 January, up from pounds 9.9m in the first half last year. However, a pounds 4.9m exceptional goodwill write-off on disposals, previously set against reserves, took pre-tax profits down from pounds 10.5m to pounds 7.1m.

Miles Emley, chairman, said: 'There has not been any marked improvement in trading conditions across the board.' The group's corporate finance printing saw strong turnover growth. St Ives has a 20 per cent share of the London market, and also won printing contracts for three of the five recent French privatisations through a Paris office opened in August.

Direct response printing, including Inland Revenue forms, saw increased volumes. There were also modest rises in turnover for the group's music division, printing CD and cassette inserts, and its UK magazine business. However, with the exception of a 'considerable' increase in Bible sales in the US, turnover in book printing was flat because of St Ives' refusal to cut prices. Its US magazine arm made an interim loss of pounds 118,000.

The shares fell 6p to 400p.