Clays owner St Ives set for improved first-half

THE owner of Suffolk-based book printer Clays said today that it remained on course for an improved first half performance.

In a pre-close trading update ahead of interim results due out on March 6, marketing services and print group St Ives said it continued “to make solid progress” despite the “challenging” economic climate.

“Group sales are ahead of last year driven by acquisition and growth within our Marketing Services segment, whilst at the same time we have further reduced our exposure to commoditised print markets,” St Ives said.

“The acquisitions made in the first half of this financial year, Response One and Pragma, are being integrated successfully and have significantly strengthened and extended the group’s marketing services capabilities.

“Our book business continues to perform well and has made further significant

market share gains,” it added.

Clays, based at Bungay, produces around 160million books a year, including more than half of the UK’s paperbacks. It prints for many leading publishing houses, including those representing popular authors such as J K Rowling and Dan Brown.

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In its last financial year, to July 29, 2011, St Ives made a pre-tax profit of �16.9million, 28% up on the previous 12 months.

It added today: “The group’s financial position remains robust and, in addition, we continue to see the benefits of the actions taken to re-position the group towards higher added value services.

“We remain confident of an improved performance in the first half of this financial year compared to the equivalent period last year.