Lancashire-based Skillsgroup is taking a cautious approach to its outlook for the next six months, after experiencing flat figures in the first half of its fiscal year.
The company, which changed its name from P&P in May, has posted a pre-tax profit of #6.5 million on turnover of #181.6 million for the six months to 31 May, showing no change in profit from the same period last year, and an increase in sales of just 1.3 per cent. Skillsgroup blamed the lacklustre performance on a depressed PC market in Europe, combined with the strong pound, which is forcing orders downwards.
In a statement, Skillsgroup chairman Roland Smith said: ?Although we expect a stronger performance in the second half of 1997 than the first half, trading conditions remain difficult, particularly in the P&P mainland European business. Consequently we are cautious with regard to the outcome for the rest of the year.?
Skillgroup?s P&P desktop business saw an 18 per cent drop in sales to #104.8 million from #127.3 million for the same period last year. Operating profits for the unit were #2.3 million, compared with slightly higher operating profits of #2.6 million and #2.4 million from the QA and Acuma businesses, with sales of #36.2 million and #40.6 million respectively.
The desktop business? performance has fuelled speculation that the unit is about to be sold off. As revealed in PC Dealer (18 June), Skillsgroup is looking to off-load its desktop division to concentrate on the higher margin business. Skillsgroup managing director David Southworth is understood to be touting the business after resellers received a prospectus offering the operation.
Nick Melvin, UK marketing director at Skillsgroup, said: ?We think it?s a good performance. The circumstances were beyond our control. As for selling off P&P, it is clear from the company statement and our results that this is not the case. We aim to have a balanced portfolio of services, and P&P remains part of our strategy.?
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