Shake-up announced at Xmas hampers and reward cards group Park

Laura Carstensen

Rewards, gift voucher and Christmas hamper group Park reported better half year figures today, and revealed a shake-up, including the separation of its hamper business from the core business, and an office relocation.

The Birkenhead-based group announced the figures for the six months to September 30, saying it had achieved “a good performance, in line with expectations”.

Billings, including money loaded on to gift vouchers and reward cards, rose 3.3% to £109m, although revenues fell from £30.6m to £27.4m, due to some low margin business not being repeated.

A pre-tax loss of £1.5m was better than the £1.9m loss last year. Park traditionally reports a loss in the first half, and fares much better in the second half.

The group has raised the dividend by 5% to 1.05p per share for shareholders.

Its cash balance, including cash held in trust, at September 30, of £212.4m, compares with £199.6m at the same point last year.

It had average cash balances of £175.4m compared with £166.1m in 2017.

During the six month period Park’s corporate and consumer businesses performed well, with new major retailer partners added to its portfolio, including Arcadia, Fat Face and The Entertainer.

It said its order book is comfortably ahead of the comparative period, reflecting strong corporate orders and stable consumer orders, as previously guided

Following a market research programme the business has announced a series of initiaties to improve efficiency.

These include separating its hamper production from the core business as a step towards simplifying its product range.

It also intends to relocate from its Birkenhead base to offices in Liverpool city centre, “to enable optimal use of assets and attract talent”.

Park, in an effort to broaden its customer appeal and drive growth, is also launching a new product targeting a £2bn market with a broader demographic in which it currently does not compete.

Chairman Laura Carstensen said: “Park performed well in the first half, consistent with our expectations for the year as a whole and we are encouraged by our order book which is ahead of the same time last year overall.

“We are excited to announce the principal pillars of our new strategic business plan and the initial actions we are undertaking to deliver it.

“We continue to be encouraged by the future opportunities for Park and are optimistic about how the plan will enhance these opportunities further and accelerate our future growth trajectory.”

Looking ahead, she added: “Overall, our outlook for underlying trading for the second half and the year as a whole is unchanged.

“Our order book forecast is ahead of last year, reflecting strong orders in our corporate business and broadly stable orders for our consumer business in line with our expectation at the time of our full year results in June 2018.

“Cash balances, including monies held in trust, are ahead of last year reflecting growth in the business.

“In summary, we continue to be encouraged by the opportunities for Park and are optimistic about how the strategic plan will enhance these opportunities further and accelerate our future growth trajectory.”