Bungay: Clays owner St Ives reports ‘good start’ to financial year in Q1

PRINT and marketing services group St Ives has reported a “good start” to its new financial year, with sales up by around 10%.

St Ives, which includes Bungay-based book printer Clays, said the increase for the 13 weeks to October 28, mainly reflected a combination of organic and acquisition growth within its marketing services businesses.

Sales within the sales across the print sector were “broadly in line” with the some period last year, despite the ongoing tough economic climate.

“We continue to make good progress with our strategy to reposition the business away from commoditised print markets and toward higher added value services that are complementary to our print offering, the group said

“Despite the difficult trading conditions we have managed to maintain overall print sales in line with last year, achieve further cost reductions and gain additional market share.

“The commercial print market remains fiercely competitive and significant excess capacity continues to exert pressure on price.

“However, our book business remains very strong and our eBook strategy has been enhanced by our recently announced investment in the eBook conversion software provider, Evolved Group.

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“Our point of sale business continues to make progress and there are some signs that the market for large format graphics is improving ahead of the 2012 Olympics,” it said.

Looking ahead, the group added “Whilst visibility is poor and there are no signs of improvement in underlying market conditions, we remain confident that the actions we have taken to strategically reposition the group will enable us to make further progress this year.”

In the 52 weeks to July 29, St Ives made a pre-tax profit of �16.9million, 28% up on the previous year.