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Smiths News cheers World Cup boost but warns further print decline on the way

What the papers say (PA) (PA Archive)
What the papers say (PA) (PA Archive)

Smiths News cheered a World Cup and Coronation boost as the newspaper and magazine wholesaler posted a rise in profits.

But the Swindon-based business warned further declines in print volumes were on the way as it prepared for additional cost-cutting measures.

Revenues for the year to the end of August were unchanged at £1.1 billion, while profits rose 14% to £31.8 million. That was helped by a rise in demand for football trading cards and stickers, as well as sales of King Charles-themed newspaper and magazine special editions.

Smiths said at least 65% of its current revenue streams were secured for at least the next six years after it renewed contracts to distribute papers for the Telegraph, the Times and Sun owner News UK and the Daily Mail owner Associated Newspapers.

The firm said a further drop in paper circulation was "predictable" but that a rise in cover prices had offset any concomitant fall in turnover.

"Top line sales were boosted by the FIFA World Cup, the Royal Succession and sustained price rises above historic norms," Smiths said.

"[But] we are mindful that sales gains from the World Cup and Royal Succession will not repeat in FY2024.

"We expect volumes to continue to decline and we are planning accordingly, taking the opportunity to reconfigure our network and operations as part of our cost reduction programme."

Smiths vowed to continue to bear down on its debts and said it had repaid £18.5 million of a £60 million bank loan, on which it now faces an interest rate of almost 10%.

Smiths shares were unchanged after markets opened.