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Bertram Books owner hit by slow investment return

18:14 23 April 2014

Bertram Books in Thorpe St Andrew

Bertram Books in Thorpe St Andrew

Archant

The owner of EDP Top100 company Bertram Books said a slower than expected return on investment had impacted the profit of its books business.

Connect Group – the new name for Smiths News which owns the Norwich-based company – said pressures on margins had also hit the division’s performance, although its online bookselling arm Wordery continued to mount strong sales growth and counted for 11pc of total book sales.

It comes as the newspaper side of the business secured over £1.1bn of total annualised revenues through to 2019 and beyond, while newspaper sales were up 0.9pc thanks to new business winds, cover price inflation and strong promotions.

Connect Group saw underlying revenues fall 0.3pc in the six months to February 28 2014, from £901.7m last year to £898.7m this year. Meanwhile, underlying pre-tax profits grew 3pc over the same period to £24m.

Mark Cashmore, group chief executive, said: “The group continues to make good strategic progress despite a challenging start to the year in our Books division. Our News and Media and Education & Care divisions, which represent 91pc of Group profits, are performing strongly, with 77pc of our News revenue now secured to 2019 or beyond.

“We remain focused on growing profits, generating significant levels of free cash and delivering on our ongoing diversification strategy, which targets the group generating 50pc of profits outside of newspaper and magazine wholesaling by 2016.”

•Do you have a business story for the Eastern Daily Press? Contact business writer Ben Woods on ben.woods@archant.co.uk or email ben.woods@archant.co.uk

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