More continental buys on the cards at Walstead

Walstead has further European buys in its sights after posting a huge jump in turnover in the first full year of consolidated results for the existing group.

In the year to 31 December 2017 sales (including paper) jumped by 85% to €481.1m (£415.7m) thanks to a full year contribution from Wyndeham Bicester and Austrian group Leykam Let’s Print, both of which were acquired in the first half of 2016.

Net revenue (excluding paper costs) was up 75.3% at €301.2m.

However, a downturn in business in Spain meant the group didn’t quite reach the €500m turnover landmark.

EBITDA (excluding non-recurring gains) increased by 35.3% to €49.4m, while pre-tax profit grew from €8.6m to €9.7m.

Chairman Mark Scanlon said he was “very satisfied with progress” and said the results backed up Walstead’s six-pronged business strategy.

“These record results… clearly demonstrate that Walstead’s strategy – which is predicated on growing by acquisition, maintaining sensible levels of capex, generating strong cash flows, reducing debt, continually improving production efficiencies, and maximising procurement scale – is the right one,” he stated.

Further continental buys are in the pipeline, and Walstead is understood to have several potential targets in sight with at least one of the deals close to completion.

Scanlon said the group had the necessary management talent and financial firepower to successfully consolidate the European web offset and gravure industry. "I hope to report later this year on more exciting developments in this area," he said. 

At Walstead’s UK business, Wyndeham, sales increased by 8.4% to £125.7m, and volumes jumped 14.8% to 92.2bn pages, despite the general decline in the magazine market.

“A large proportion of the volume increase is the result of more retail flyer work. We won some significant work last year and there is more to come this year,” Scanlon added.

Sales at Walstead’s Iberian gravure and web offset operations, Eurohueco and Rotocobrhi, were impacted by the resurrection of the previously shuttered Heliocolor business, which restarted operations under a new owner.

Sales at Walstead Iberia fell by 7.1% to €109m in the face of the resulting price reductions. “Walstead’s policy is to release volume rather than retain work at sub-economic prices,” the group said.

Volumes in Iberia decreased by 1.2% to 104.6bn pages.

At Walstead CE in Austria, sales slipped by 1.8% to €228.5m, although volumes increased by 2.7% to 146.6bn pages.

The group paid back €32.5m of bank and shareholder loans and reduced its net debt by 13.6% to €132.7m.

It spent €12.6m on capex including an initial €2m on the installation of a 96pp Goss Sunday web press from Polestar Sheffield, which is being installed at Rotocobrhi and is due to be up and running in the second half of the year.

Walstead said that trading for the first two months of 2018 had been in line with expectations. 



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