Go Inspire post strong results, preps for M&A

Go Inspire Group has recorded 15% jump in profits in the year to 31 March 2020 and is poised to play a role in the inevitable post-lockdown consolidation of the UK print industry.

Headley: I think there will be opportunities
Headley: I think there will be opportunities

According to the group’s unaudited accounts, turnover remained strong, increasing by £1.8m to £71.9m in the 19/20 financial year, while EBITDA increased by just over £1m to £7.7m.

During the 12-month period the group restructured its 4DM business, turning the old 4DM facility into a finishing centre of excellence for the Eclipse business. It moved much of Kettering-based Eclipse’s finishing kit to the site, which is over the road, and installing a new, additional Polar Pace cutting line and two additional, refurbished folders.

Speaking about the coronavirus impact on the results, CEO Patrick Headley said the flagship Solutions DM and transactional business had been largely unaffected during March, but the Eclipse and Insight divisions had suffered, knocking off around £300k of EBITDA.

However, while he said the first month of this financial year had also been challenging, much of the short-term pressure had been eased by the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

“I also think May will be better, as a group we will break even, and then it depends what June is like and so on.”

The company placed around 35% of its circa 450 staff on furlough, and is enforcing a strict social distancing policy at its operating sites.

While he described the furlough scheme as a "Godsend" for a lot of UK businesses, he also acknowledged that it would create UK-wide issues down the line.

“I’m not talking about just our industry, but all industries especially, for example, things like the pub industry, where a lot of people on furlough have lost their jobs, because the reality is that the furlough scheme has created a false situation.”

He said that until the furlough scheme ends, it would be difficult to predict how quickly marketing activity would return to pre-lockdown levels across some sectors.

“There’s no doubt that were very fortunate to have the transactional side of the business, which just keeps plugging away," he noted. 

He added that the charity side of the business was also performing strongly, winning a significant six-figure deal this week with a major charity.

“It’s never missed a heartbeat, it’s just gone from strength to strength. Insight has been busy recently too,” he said.

According to Headley, now that the group is three years on from its acquisition of Eclipse, and the fact that it continued to reduce debt in 19/20 and further improve cash generation, it has increased the group’s working capital to £11m.

As a result, he said the group is in a strong fiscal position to seize any potential M&A opportunities in coming months.

“Unfortunately, there will be a lot of business that will go and I think there will be opportunities, consolidation is going to be rife,” he added.

However, he added a note of caution that because directors’ responsibilities have effectively been waived during the crisis there are, in effect, businesses that are trading insolvent, which he believes could have a massively damaging impact on industry’s supply chain.

“Going forward, the only thing that is certain is uncertainty,” he said.

“So, we as a business, are focused on being as agile as possible to rise to all of the opportunities and challenges that all businesses will face in the coming months.”

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