Wirral’s Park Group sees profits rise to £12.9m as new CEO takes the helm

Ian O’Doherty took over at the Birkenhead firm, which employs more than 250 people, in March following the retirement of Chris Houghton after 30 years with the business. Tony McDonough reports

Money, cash, sterling
Christmas savings is a significant part of Park Group’s business


Park Goup’s new chief executive Ian O’Doherty has paid tribute to his predecessor Chris Houghton as the Wirral firm reported a 4.1% rise in pre-tax profits to £12.9m.

Unveiling the company’s full-year results to March 31, Mr O’Doherty said that given he only took up his post in February, credit for the strong performance must go to Mr Houghton, who retired after 30 years with the business, and finance director Martin Stewart.

“Credit for this sold performance must go to Chris and Martin. Chris has been really helpful to me during the transition period,” Mr O’Doherty told LBN.

Strong background

Birkenhead-based Park’s business model centres around prepaid gift vouchers, Christmas savings pre-paid cards and corporate incentives – as well as its traditional Christmas hampers operation. It employs more than 250 people.

Mr O’Doherty arrived at Park with a strong background in financial services, specifically in banking, payments and card services, having worked at Chester-based MBNA for 26 years.

Most recently he served as chairman and chief executive of MBNA in the UK, a position he held from 2008 to 2017.

During the 12-month period total billings increased by 2% to £412.8m with the corporate business contributing £188.2m. Total cash balances peaked at £229m, up from £217m in 2017. It The has declared a final dividend of 2.05p per share, bringing total dividends for the year to 3.05p, up 5.2% on 2017.


During his time as chief executive Mr Houghton set about transforming Park into a modern, digitally-focused operation – a strategy that has paid dividends.

Facebook remains the most popular social media channel for the company and it now has more than 127,000 followers, compared with 100,000 12 months ago. During the year, approximately £4m of orders were generated by the Facebook page alone.

“Mr O’Doherty added: “The business is now in a very strong position, thanks to Chris and Martin (who will also depart this summer), and what I want to do is build on that. We will continue with the strategy Chris put in place and we will also undertake a review of the business.”

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