Appreciate ends year in line with market expectations
Multi-retailer product redemption provider Appreciate Group ended its financial year in line with market expectations, it announced on Thursday, after a “resilient” second half performance.
The AIM-traded firm said that performance reflected strong corporate demand, increased digital sales, and previous restructuring actions, mitigating the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
That excluded £3.0m of non-recurring restructuring costs, including the wind-down of hamper production and the Republic of Ireland business, of which at least £0.6m was expected to be classified as exceptional costs.
Free cash stood at £32.9m at year-end on 31 March, excluding funds required to be held in trust, up from £29.6m year-on-year.
Total group billings, including its free school meals initiative, totalled £406.5m, compared to £419.9m a year earlier, while underlying billings, which included corporate and the ‘Highstreetvouchers.com’ brand only, continued to stabilise following improvements seen since the initial impact of the coronavirus crisis.
Underlying billings were down 11.2% year-on-year in the fourth quarter, while underlying billings for the year were 8.0% lower at £187.5m.
“We have met the unprecedented challenges of the last year by focusing on colleagues' wellbeing and the needs of our customers; this meant accelerating our plans to become a leaner, more digital-focused business, with an improved proposition for corporate and consumer customers,” said chief executive officer Ian O'Doherty.
“Our recent investments in infrastructure and workplace culture underpinned our ability to come through the crisis stronger.”
That had helped the company mitigate the worst impacts of the pandemic and reposition the business, O'Doherty said, making it “better placed” for future growth.
“Whilst the speed at which normal levels of activity will return is unclear, we believe that, as the economy emerges from lockdown, we are better positioned to exploit the trends in our market and deliver sustainable growth in future years.”
At 1313 BST, shares in Appreciate Group were down 5.24% at 38p.