UK: Management Today "MT250" profits league table. (3 of 17)

UK: Management Today "MT250" profits league table. (3 of 17) - De La Rue's future looks secure.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

De La Rue's future looks secure.

The biggest climber in this year's table is security printer De La Rue, up a staggering 100 places to 143rd. After some pretty disastrous 1988-89 results, where profits fell by 60%, 1989-90 saw a substantial recovery to £50.6 million.

Much of the credit goes to Jeremy Marshall, chief executive since 1989. He has presided over a rigorous restructuring in which several loss-making subsidiaries have been closed or sold off and central administration as well as capital expenditure have been slashed. These are techniques which Marshall no doubt gleaned from his previous experience at Hanson (a company, incidentally, which has fallen 112 places this year).

At the same time, a cloud was removed from the company's future when Robert Maxwell placed his 21% speculative stake with a number of City institutions at the end of last year.

Chief among the sales were the troubled Crosfield subsidiary, sold to a joint venture between Dupont and Fiji, and Printrak, manufacturer of high-tech fingerprint identification equipment. The latter was effectively given away in a management buyout. Now Marshall intends to focus on banknote and other security printing and payment systems for banks.

Analysts are expecting the Marshall touch to bear further fruit - a doubling of profits within the next two years. The business is largely recession proof.

Bryant nearly home and dry.

Bryant Group, the Birmingham builder, has plunged down the MT250 league this year, highlighting the dreadful recession faced by the construction industry. Last year Bryant managed a respectable score of 19.9% to reach 77th place in the MT250. This year its score has more than halved to hit 8.2%, putting it at a lowly 211 out of the 250.

In November the company revealed the extent of the downturn when it unveiled half-year profits down a full 36%. The number of homes sold by Bryant fell by 30%, and the average price obtained also fell sharply - from £106,000 to £91,000.

But it has not been all doom and gloom for the Solihull group. In October a one-for-four rights issue raised some £40 million to increase its landbank. Though Andrew Mackenzie, managing director, admitted later that finding the land had been more difficult than anticipated, the money raised helped to reduce Bryant's gearing from around 30% to a very healthy 3%, with the actual borrowings down from £50 million to £5 million.

Bryant has also been successful in winning some pretty plum contracts in recent months. In November it was awarded a £37 million contract by Conoco for its new headquarters building at Warwick Technology Park. In the current year it is planning to build some 1,600 homes, not far short of the 1990 total.

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