St Ives puts up prices as trading profits fall

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The Independent Online
ST IVES is pushing through the first price increases at its magazine printing business for more than three years, writes Neil Thapar.

The group yesterday announced a 4 per cent advance in taxable profits to pounds 10.5m for the half-year to 29 January on a slight dip in turnover to pounds 108m.

The price rises are aimed at clawing back some of the concessions made to customers during recent industry overcapacity.

In some cases St Ives had been forced to cut prices by up to 25 per cent, but in recent weeks it has managed to push through price increases at above the inflation rate.

However, returns were still well below acceptable levels and the effects of the recent increases would not be evident until next year, Robert Gavron, chairman, said. Trading profits from UK operations fell from pounds 10.1m to pounds 8.9m in the first half.

The company said few publishers had seen any significant increase in advertising, so there had been little rise in magazine paginations.

In addition, the group's financial publishing arm was hit by a low level of corporate activity and fierce price competition for the printing of company annual reports.

St Ives has won the contract to print prospectuses for the Government's forthcoming BT share offer. Book publishing benefited from a higher market share in hardbacks.

Earnings per share fell from 7.3p to 7.2p but the interim dividend is being held at 1.2p.

Panmure Gordon has trimmed its full-year profits forecast for the group from pounds 23m to pounds 22.4m before tax. The shares fell 6p to 337p.