Prospects looking solid for Park Group despite widening half-year losses

Birkenhead firm employs 260 people in Birkenhead offering gift vouchers, Christmas savings pre-paid cards and corporate incentives and said higher admin costs had pushed up losses. Tony McDonough reports

Chris Houghton, chief executive of Park Group


Gift vouchers, Christmas savings pre-paid cards and corporate incentives business Park Group saw pre-tax losses widen to £1.6m in it latest half-year results.

The Birkenhead company traditionally reports a loss in the half year to September 30 with its Christmas-focused savings operations providing a big chunk of the profits.

The widening losses in this half, up from just under £800,000 last year, were blamed on higher administrative costs and business expansion.

Revenues rose by 3.1% to £74.7m, during the six-month period from £72.4m last year.

Chief executive Chris Houghton told YBNews: “We have sold more pre-paid cards in the first half of the year. While the costs appear in the first half the revenues from those sales won’t appear until the second half.

“We have also seen an increase in overhead costs and we have launched new products.”

Park Group, which employs around 260 people, was founded by former Everton FC and Tranmere Rovers owner Peter Johnson.

It was traditionally a Christmas hampers and festive savings business and, under the leadership of Mr Houghton, has undergone a significant technological change.

More than 90% of the firm’s orders now come online compared with just 10% in 2008. Park said in its latest results that more than £13m of orders already placed for Christmas 2018 via its mobile app.

Park raised its dividend 5.3% to 1.00p per share (2016 – 0.95p per share).

Mr Houghton will step down as CEO after the company’s full-year results in June and will be replaced by former MBNA boss, Ian O’Doherty.

“I’ve always said this business is quite unique so there will be a transition period for Ian to learn about the business. He comes to us with significant experience and running a card business.”

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