But profit margins have been affected by difficult trading conditions and reduced consumer confidence in some sectors.
rofit before tax to the end of June fell marginally to £2.
million, compared to £2.
million for the same period last year.
urnover for the continuing operations of the group – which owns the Jersey Evening Post and Guernsey Press newspapers, retail and wholesale operations in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, and Itex – is three per cent down, at £34.
m, with growth in the retail and wholesale division dampened by a fall in technology hardware sales and the decline in employment advertising sales.
he chairman, Senator Frank Walker, commented: ‘I am pleased to report a solid result for the first six months of the year, in particular the early benefits of the turnaround strategy for our technology division.
This was achieved in the face of continued deterioration in our main markets.
Overall the group is trading to plan for 2003 and is well placed to take advantage of any economic upturn.
Operating profit from continuing operations fell by ten per cent from £2.
million to £2.
But the group has restructured its bank facilities in a more flexible and cost-efficient form and the board continues to have confidence in the group’s prospects, again declaring a ten per cent increase in the interim dividend.
he group invested in £1 million of fixed assets, including retail stores, improved IT systems and conversion to a digital photography system for the newspapers.
n his chairman’s statement, Senator Walker says that the JEP and the Guernsey Press have generally coped well with the worsening of the important employment advertising market, with other sectors, especially property, performing well.
Circulation of both newspapers remained similar to last year, with Guernsey showing a slight increase and Jersey a small decline.
urnover in the retail and wholesale sectors grew by seven per cent year on year.
Sales from the Spar convenience stores went up 12 per cent, but turnover from the high street shops dropped four per cent, due to ‘increased competition and low consumer confidence in the Channel Island market’.
educed economic confidence also affected Itex, particularly in offshore financial services, reflected in the falling turnover of low margin hardware sales and delay in capital investment.
But there has been growth in the managed services business.
enator Walker said: ‘Cost pressures are forcing many businesses, particularly those in the finance sector, to examine how they can deliver their information technology requirements more economically and Itex has been able to take advantage of this opportunity by offering an outsourced alternative.
In the public sector Itex has won ‘preferred supplier’ status to Guernsey schools, in addition to existing contracts for Jersey’s primary and secondary schools, and recently opened the second phase of its technology management centre outside St Peter Port.
ollins Stewart, stockbrokers to Guiton, said: ‘The interim results are in line with our expectations and our forecasts for the year remain unchanged.