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S&U boosted by late surge; PROFITS: Home credit group optimistic after results.

Byline: By Chris Morley

A STRONG end to 2006 saved annual profits for Midlands home credit group S&U from taking a dive, it was revealed today.

The Solihull-based company posted pre-tax profits of pounds 8.9 million for the year to January 31, compared to pounds 9.1 million previously.

Despite the dip, which saw its home collected credit division's earnings slip pounds 300,000 to pounds 6.6 million, directors said they had "confidence in the coming year".

Chairman Derek Coombs said that overall profits for the second half were pounds 4.1 million, pounds 300,000 better than last time and that group revenue climbed to pounds 42.8 million from pounds 41.3 million in 2006.

He said the improvement was boosted by "controlled second half investment and significant growth in our home collected customer numbers and representative network".

A bright spot was S&U's motor finance arm which clocked up a profit of pounds 2.3 million from pounds 2.2 million in the previous 12 months.

Managing director Anthony Coombs said the strength of current trading made him "more optimistic now than for many years".

He said: "We maintain our frugal approach to unnecessary overheads, which have fallen around eight per cent since last year at head office level.

"All this means that if current trends in trading persist, we can look forward to a resumption in group profits in 2007-8 after the hiatus of the last two years.

"In a more challenging market, Advantage Finance, our motor credit subsidiary, has produced record profits at pounds 2.3 million and Communitas Finance, our second mortgage subsidiary launched last year, has, as I expected, achieved near break-even in its first full year of trading."

Shareholders will see a penny rise in the dividend to 23p for the six months to January 31.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Mar 29, 2007
Words:307
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