Ahead of the company’s final results on 12th June, Findel plc announced that it expects group sales to be in line with expectations and approximately 1 percent ahead of last year. In a preclose statement for the year ending 30th March, Findel said its mail order arm Express Gifts continued to see increasing customer numbers in response to a “more competitive pricing approach and improved offer”. Thanks to a strong Christmas, sales are around 9 percent higher for the year. In contrast, Findel saw a sales decline at Kleeneze, but this was reduced from 9 percent in the first half to 1 percent in the second half of 2011/12. The education Supplies division is expected to report an annual sales decline for the full year of around 12 percent. Findel attributes part of the slump to increasing pressures on school budgets. The healthcare division is performing well, maintaining an annual sales growth since the half-year of 12 percent.
While sales at Findel-owned Kitbag are expected to rise this year, the business is on track to deliver a “significant operating loss”. To turn its fortunes around, the management team is now focused on growing cash margin and dealing with legacy issues such as poor processes and unprofitable contracts. The sportswear retailer has already signed new exclusive terms with Aston Villa FC and has won contracts in golf to support the next two Ryder Cups and they have renewed with The Open Championship. Discussions are also in an advanced stage with “two major American organisations” to service their European online stores. Following the restructuring of Kitbag as well as further management changes and rationalisation group-wide, Findel will incur a cost £8 million in the second half of the year.
Following Ofcom’s announcement of a new regulatory framework to safeguard the universal service, Royal Mail confirmed that from 30th April, the price for a first class stamp for a standard letter will rise from 46p to 60p. The price for a second class stamp for a standard letter will increase from 36p to 50p. For business customers, Ofcom has placed a cap on second class small parcels and large letters up to 2Kg in weight, on which it will consult next month. This cap will not constrain prices for 2012/13, which have been confirmed as £2.70 for first class packets weighing up to 750g from 30th April. For second class packets the price will be £2.20. Currently the prices range between £1.58 and £3.05 for first class items weighing up to 750g and between £1.33 and £2.61 for second class packets.
Matalan founder John Hargreaves has acquired the Fenn Wright Manson brand, John Lewis concession and a small number of its 17 shops, reports the Independent. According to the article, he intends to run Fenn Wright Manson as a separate business to Matalan, with his daughter Maxine playing a lead role.
The fashion pages of the Telegraph profile David Hieatt, the founder of Howies and now the owner of Hiut Denim Co.
Chairman Oliver Stocken is retiring from the board of Argos and Homebase owner Home Retail Group. He is succeeded by John Coombe, who is currently a senior independent director at the company.
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