City Briefs: Synectics, Virgin Money; and more

Advanced security and surveillance business, Synectics has secured a contract worth over £1m with the Irish Republic’s National Transport Authority (NTA).

The contracts will see the Sheffield-based business provide, install and maintain safety critical on-board surveillance systems for Irish-based bus operators Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann as the NTA transitions to low emission and electric buses.

New hybrid and hydrogen-powered vehicles have been ordered by the NTA from UK and European bus manufacturers, and all will take advantage of Synectics Security’s latest recording technology, integrated reversing systems and comprehensive in-territory support.

Paul Webb, Chief Executive of Synectics plc, commented: “These NTA contracts recognise Synectics Security’s long-term experience in the Irish bus market, expertise in on-bus surveillance systems and close working relationships with the major bus manufacturers.”

Speaking to TheBusinessDesk.com earlier this month Webb explained that although the UK bus market was declining – which has heavily impacted the firm’s results – he predicts an increase in activity as manufacturers return to production move to replace the ageing diesel fleets with new more environmentally friendly vehicles.

Yesterday Stonehage Fleming Investment Management purchased a 9.6% stake in the business, which resulted in a 12% boost to Synectics price.

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Virgin Money, which owns Yorkshire Bank and is currently working to integrate both this and the Clydesdale Bank within the Virgin brand, has posted a trading update for the nine months to 30 June.

It said that customer deposits had increased in Q3 to £67.7bn which was attributed to lower personal customer spending during lockdown and business customers maintaining higher levels of liquidity. This along with growth in Business lending and a reduction in both mortgage portfolio and personal lending, all reflect the economic impact of Covid-19 and the UK lockdown.

The business has also confirmed it expects the majority of its employees to continue to work from home for “at least the remainder of 2020”

David Duffy, Chief Executive Officer said, “I am pleased with the way the Group has performed during the pandemic. In a severely disrupted environment we are delivering on what we set out in May; to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our colleagues, customers and communities while protecting the bank.

“Our Q3 financial results reflect lower demand from consumers due to the pandemic, but strong demand from businesses for Government-supported schemes, with the Group further increasing its provisions to reflect the uncertain economic outlook while maintaining a focus on margin, cost and capital management.

“We know that things may yet get more difficult for many of our customers, but we are determined to continue to support their needs where we can and to fulfil our role in the economic recovery.

“We have now recommenced our transformation and rebrand activity, taking what we have learned through the pandemic to deliver on our mission to disrupt the status quo as a full-service digital bank.”

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Card Factory has updated on its current market position and has confirmed it now has 1,015 of its 1,018 stores open across the UK and Ireland.

The Wakefield-based firm has stated that sales from its store have exceeded expectations within like-for-like sales since reopening down 21.6% against an original prediction of 50%. In fact althogh total transactions is down due to lower footfall the firm reports that transaction valye has increased by almost a quarter.

The business is also continuing its property review, having opened seven new stores already this financial year and closed 11, with a further four to be opened. However, it expects that the store closures will rise by a further nine by the end of the current financial year.

Over the period the company has continued to manage costs, cash and creditors carefully and expects to remain within its revised banking covenants, as a result of the increased revenues in store and online, cost reduction activity and deferrals in the region of £24.7m

The firm has confirmed that although pleased with the current performance since reopening it is “far too soon to determine whether initial trading reflects the release of pent-up demand following lockdown” or the new normal.

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Dechra Pharmaceuticals has completed the acquisition of the worldwide rights of the Osurnia business Elanco Animal Health Incorporated.

This news follows the announcement by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) that it had cleared the £102.4m purchase earlier this month.

Ian Page, Dechra’s Chief Executive Officer said, “We are delighted to complete the acquisition of the worldwide rights to Osurnia. The addition of Osurnia will allow us to offer an extended range of solutions for veterinarians to manage otitis externa and offer the best treatment for the pet taking into consideration the veterinarians clinical preference and the owners’ lifestyle.”

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