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Light at end of tunnel for Cradley printers.

The chairman of troubled Black Country printer Cradley Group said he could see light at the end of the tunnel after the company halved its pre-tax losses in the last six months of 2003.

John Wheatley said Cradley's cost cutting and restructuring over the last two years was beginning to bear fruit, as losses fell from pounds 1.19 million to pounds 524,000.

Meanwhile, the group more than doubled earnings before interest, tax depreciation and amortisation (EBITA) to pounds 916,000 from pounds 396,000.

The rise came as the company reported a six per cent increase in sales to pounds 14.25 million.

Mr Wheatley said: 'I am very encouraged with these figures. There is a long way to go, but I can see light at the end of the tunnel. 'We have had a very significant cost and waste reduction program and identified how we can do things better and faster.

'We have also shifted the emphasis of the business. Three years ago it was predominantly a magazine publishing business, but the market for magazines was under severe price pressure.

'So we made a decision to move away from our dependence on magazines and become more involved in press finished products.'

The company, which employs 340 at its works in Cradley, now produces inserts for mail order catalogues as well as the large catalogues themselves.

Mr Wheatley said it had recently won contracts with some magazines, and was now focusing on value added products.

Meanwhile, the company announced it had bought the remaining 20 per cent minority interest in Britespot Publishing Solutions for pounds 19,000.

It also formed a new subsidiary, Big Spark, based in Manchester, which is involved in publishing and advertising activities for local organisations, authorities and corporate clients.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Apr 1, 2004
Words:295
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