Banknote printer posts 61 per cent in annual earnings

Banknote printer De La Rue has said its turnaround plan is bearing fruit as it posted a 61 per cent jump in annual earnings after slashing costs.

De La Rue recently won a new Bank of England contract to print plastic notes, starting in July 2021.

The group saw underlying operating profits - the company's preferred measure - soar to £38.1m for the year to March 27, up from £23.7m the previous year.

It has now cut annual costs by £36m in total as part of a major three-year overhaul, having stripped out a further £23m in the past year, and the group plans to shave another £7m off in 2021-22.

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But as a result of stepping back from passports - or its identity solutions business - full-year revenues fell 10.2 per cent to £388.1m.

This impacted its bottom line, with annual pre-tax profits from continuing operations tumbling to £9.9m from £36.1m the previous year.

The company is going through a three-year turnaround plan which includes reducing debts and moving away from making passports.

Clive Vacher, chief executive of De La Rue, cheered the success of the overhaul so far and the group added that trading in the first two months of the new financial year has been "positive" and in line with expectations.

He said: "Both our ongoing divisions are performing well and the group has delivered good growth in adjusted operating profits as we complete the first full year of our turnaround plan.

"We see a strong pipeline of business for full-year 2021-22 and continue to expect to deliver the full financial and operational benefits of the turnaround plan during the year."

Net debt was reduced to £52.3m at the end of March, down from £102.8m a year ago, helped by raising £100m from shareholders last summer.

The group has been putting resources into plastic banknote manufacturing, having lost the contract to print Britain's blue Brexit passports to Franco-Dutch company Gemalto three years ago.

This saw the group shut its Gateshead factory, impacting hundreds of jobs.

It recently won a new Bank of England contract to print plastic notes, starting in July 2021.

The group has bought a new building next to its existing site in Westhoughton, near Bolton, in Greater Manchester to double polymer production capacity.

De La Rue started making the Bank of England's first polymer notes in 2015, launching England's first plastic £5 note a year later.

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