Maiden has blamed 'difficult times in outdoor' for dire first-half
Attempting to counter bad news with bullish promises of a record
second-half, chief executive Ron Zeghibe announced sales are down from
pounds 31.8 million to pounds 29.3 million. More worrying still was the
pre-tax loss of pounds 918,000, a dramatic drop from the previous
period's pounds 3.5 million profit.
Zeghibe said it had been a grim trading period: 'We're happy to have
escaped this downturn and are able to look forward to a fantastic second
half. Since the World Cup there has been a lot of talk about recession,
and advertisers still conserve their outdoor budgets at such times.'
Quoting Outdoor Advertising Association figures he added: 'Industry
estimates showed a decline of 0.3 per cent for the market as a whole,
but this disguised movements within the three main roadside formats
where 48-sheets saw a total revenue drop of 16 per cent and 96-sheets
dropped 2.7 per cent.'
Zeghibe also pointed out that the car manufacturers had cut their spend
in the first half by 20 per cent due to uncertainty over registration
dates and the holding back of new model launches until 2000.
Other industry sources suggested the picture was not as black as Zeghibe
painted it. But he hit back furiously: 'Everyone else puts a more
positive spin on the story. They talk it up while I have to be honest
because we're a public company.'
Maiden claimed the second half would 'better than any half-year
performance in history'. Previous half-year profit margins have run as
high as 16 per cent. 'It certainly has been a year of two halves,' said
Steve Wilson, managing director of Blade.