Maiden posts turnaround in profits

Maiden has posted a dramatic second-half turnaround in sales and profit figures, and has revealed plans to restructure its sales teams.

Maiden has posted a dramatic second-half turnaround in sales and

profit figures, and has revealed plans to restructure its sales

teams.



In the first half of the financial year, Maiden recorded a drop in sales

and a worrying pre-tax loss of pounds 918,000. But a record second half,

in which profits soared to pounds 7.1 million, has given figures for the

full year a rosy glow. Annual sales were up 5 per cent on 1998 to pounds

71.2 million, while pre-tax profits slipped slightly from pounds 6.5

million to pounds 5.6 million.



The turnaround was particularly marked in 48-sheets, Maiden’s core

format, where sales grew 15 per cent in the second half, having declined

13 per cent in the first half.



Chief executive Ron Zeghibe was criticised by rivals after the

first-half performance for ’blaming the industry for what was a Maiden

problem’.



But Zeghibe said the latest figures have proved his point: ’You don’t

turn a company around this fast. Everyone was throwing brickbats but we

have been honest all along, as you have to be when you are a public

company.



In the first half we suffered from fears that there was going to be a

recession. In the second half, everyone was starting to feel bullish and

things picked up. Unfortunately, the outdoor market is still pretty

volatile.’



Zeghibe said the boom in dotcom advertising was only part of the

story.



’What some people seem to have failed to notice is that five of the top

ten outdoor advertisers last year were fmcg companies. And spend by food

brands rose by 40 per cent last year.’



Maiden invested pounds 5.9 million in new and improved sites last year,

including adding point-of-sale six-sheets. ’A perception still exists

that posters are good for brand-building,’ said Zeghibe. ’We have to

educate people in the use of point-of-sale and tactical sites.’



The company is also planning a restructure to bring point-of-sale and

pedestrian-oriented six-sheets under the same sales umbrella as roadside

48- and 96-sheets.



’We are planning to merge the roadside and out-of-car divisions because

our customers have said they would like the option of being sold both

sets of products,’ explained managing director David Pugh. The two teams

will run in parallel until both have learned about each other’s

products.



They will then merge in June.



Martin Kearns, who is currently running roadside sales, will become

national sales manager, running both teams. His counterpart in

out-of-car sales, Jonathan Ratner, will launch a London-focused direct

sales unit.



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