City round-up: Appreciate Group; Science in Sport; Yourgene Health

20 Chapel Street

Liverpool-based gifting business, Appreciate Group, notched up its best third quarter for its corporate arm, it revealed in a trading update for the period to December 31, 2021, today.

The group, which is based in 20 Chapel Street offices in the city centre, offers a range of gift vouchers for personal, or business rewards, as well as a smaller Christmas hampers savings arm.

Underlying quarter three billings of £96.1m were 13% ahead of the same period in 2020, at £85.1m, and broadly similar to Q3 2021 (£96.8m).

There was a strong December performance with billings of £45.6m, up 41% versus the same month in 2020 (£32.4m). Compared with the record month in December 2021, billings were down two per cent.

Further growth in digital billings was achieved, with a 13% year on year rise to £27.2m (Q3 FY20: £5.9m; Q3 FY21: £24.1m).

Total year-to-date billings up to December 31, 2021, were eight per cent up on FY20, and 10% ahead of FY21, and quarter three was the best-ever quarter for the corporate business, with billings of £77.6m (Q3 FY20: £68.3m; Q3 FY21: £77.3m).

Third quarter billings via Highstreetvouchers.com were £18.4m, up 9.5% from £16.8m in Q3 FY20, and down 5.4% from £19.5m in Q3 FY21, which benefited from increased customer demand during tighter lockdown restrictions.

Free cash as at December 31, 2021, stood at £36m, compared with £19.1m in 2019 and £33.5m in 2020.

The group said it is on track to deliver in line with expectations for the year as a whole, and that the momentum seen in Q3 has been continued in the early weeks of Q4, with underlying billings ahead of the previous two financial years as at January 17, 2022. These are eight per cent up on fiscal year 2020 and 10% higher than 2021.

Chief executive, Ian O’Doherty, said: “The group has delivered a strong peak quarter, underpinning our expectations for the year as a whole, and providing further evidence that our strategy to provide a robust and scalable platform for growth is delivering.

“Our underlying billings year-to-date are now ahead of the previous two years and we are seeing continued growth in digital solutions and in our corporate proposition, which represents the bulk of this business. The results provide confidence in our brand, proposition and positions in our markets. We remain confident in the group’s prospects to deliver long term growth, notwithstanding economic and pandemic related uncertainties.”

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Science in Sport

Science in Sport said it has performed ahead of expectations during the year to December 31, 2021.

The performance nutrition company serving elite athletes, sports enthusiasts and the active lifestyle community has a manufacturing site in Nelson, East Lancashire.

It said the group delivered an underlying EBITDA of £2.2m, compared with £1.1m in 2020, driven by revenue growth of 25%, against zero growth in 2020, to £62.7m, up from £50.4m the previous year.

PhD Nutrition, a premium active lifestyle nutrition brand, grew by 19% to £29.7m (FY20: £24.9m). SIS, an endurance nutrition brand among elite athletes and professional sports teams, generated £33m, 30% ahead of the previous year (FY 2020: £25.4m). Product innovation delivered 32% of revenue growth.

The business invested in the first phase of a new supply chain facility in Blackburn, scheduled to open in the late first quarter of 2022, when the business expects immediate reductions in logistics costs.

Reflecting the accelerated investment, the group’s cash at bank on December 31, 2021, was £4.9m, in line with management expectations, compared with £10.5m in 2020.

Online sales rose strongly by 40% to £35m (FY 2020: £25m). Online sales via the group’s digital platforms were up by 28% and 53% via third-party marketplace sites.

In fact, the previous online monthly sales record was exceeded four times in the second half, including setting a new sales record over peak November trading.

In the important market of the US, sales increased by 46%. PhD Japan which launched in the first half performed ahead of plan in the second half.

Online sales accounted for 56% of total sales (FY 2020: 50%) and remain a critical driver of ongoing growth.

Meanwhile, despite being adversely impacted by pandemic restrictions, UK retail sales rose by 12% to £18.1m (FY 2020: £16.1m). International retail sales, at £9.7m, were up by four per cent (FY 2020: £9.3m). These results were after exiting more than 60 sub-scale international accounts in late 2020 to focus on scale markets.

Chief executive, Stephen Moon, said: “The group has performed well and delivered profitable revenue growth. This very encouraging performance reflects the strength of our premium brands which continue to drive strong underlying EBITDA growth.

“Growth is across all channels and key markets, especially online. Online sales increased by 40% and now account for 56% of total sales, up from 50% a year ago, underpinned by our increased investment in technology. Retail sales grew consistently over the year both in the UK and internationally. Prospects for further progress in 2022 look strong, and our longterm growth strategy remains unchanged.”

The board expects to publish final results on March 16, 2022, when it will provide a further update on current trading.

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Lyn Rees

Yourgene Health, the Manchester-based biotech company, has entered into a new three-year £5m term loan facility with Silicon Valley Bank. The facility will provide access to non-dilutive funding to enable the group to capitalise on future accretive growth opportunities including potential licensing and M&A activity, allowing for faster deal execution and lower transaction costs.

The loan is repayable over three years and is secured against UK IP and fixed assets and a first priority line over IP in the USA and Canada and represents the only material bank debt and third party security borne by Yourgene.

Nooman Haque, head of life sciences and healthcare at Silicon Valley Bank for EMEA, said: “This financing comes at an exciting time for the business given its international expansion plans underpinned by its broad range of capabilities in molecular diagnostics. We are excited to support Yourgene at a time when the business is playing an important role in the ongoing COVID-19 response by providing valued surge testing and sequencing services.”

Lyn Rees, Yourgene chief executive, said: “The agreement secured with SVB is a testament to the relationship we have built over a number of years, having worked with them and their partners in multiple territories including the USA, Canada, France, UK and Singapore. SVB has an extremely strong franchise within the US and its strong technology focus makes it an ideal strategic partner for Yourgene as we continue to expand within the North American market and internationally.

“As stated in our interim results, we have kept our debt capacity under review in light of our strengthening balance sheet and this agreement allows us to more flexibly fund future growth opportunities to drive shareholder value.”

The group also announced today the opening of new expanded facilities at its Canada operation.

Yourgene Health Canada Inc will launch its new facilities at 702-1515 Broadway Street, Port Coquitlam, Vancouver, today. The opening will be led by Mayor Brad West, Mayor of Port Coquitlam.

The new facilities are four times the square footage of the former location and will be well suited for the expected growth in the company’s instrument manufacturing and consumable shipping requirements. Yourgene took over the facilities in December 2021, following an increased headcount by 120% over 2021 and the company is currently involved in a hiring plan that will add another six team members by April 2022.

Coastal Genomics Inc has been renamed Yourgene Health Canada Inc following the acquisition in August 2020, to further integrate Coastal Genomics into the larger Yourgene Health group of companies.

Lyn Rees said: “Our new facilities will truly support the scale up of manufacturing of our Ranger Technology platforms, reagents and consumables to support our growing global customer base.”

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