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Dragons' Den Jones' etail biz Expansys back in the red

Reports £18.8m loss as retail sales dive, one-off costs soar

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If mobility etailer Expansys were to be put in front of majority shareholder and Dragons' Den badboy Peter Jones in its current guise, his response may be something along the lines of "I'm out".

Dragged down by its online retail shop, sales at the AIM-listed outfit fell 14 per cent to £93.2m, as profits before tax of £1.5m were wiped out by one-off expenses and a goodwill write down charge that left it £18.8m in the red.

A year ago it had edged back into the black but that achievement was clearly not sustainable for the management team and board, including Jones - who owns more than 40 per cent of Expansys.

Exceptionals of £2.6m included £1.1m restructuring costs for redundancies, £900,000 to settle a supplier claim, and £600,000 for two aborted acquisition costs. There was also £17.4m amortisation of goodwill attributed to mobe distie division Data Select Network Solutions (DSNS).

Chairman Bob Wigley, described the year to 30 April as a "difficult one" for the group. Management reacted to the biting economy with more job cuts at the half way stage, and cost cutting to come.

"The retail division has performed badly relative to our expectation for the year and the management team has been working hard to reduce costs in this area," he said.

The retail unit saw sales fall 14 per cent to £70m, with the largest decrease reported in Europe, down 24 per cent to £38.1m. Turnover declined in the US, too; down 14 per cent to £14.5m. The Euro division made an adjusted loss of £800,000, the firm said. Sales in Asia continued to expand, up 24 by nearly a fifth to £17.5m.

During the year the European logistics and customer services operations were outsourced to cut costs, Expansys revealed.

The company issued a profit warning in March after stumping up for restructuring charges, and Catterson added it will "continue to look at ways in which we can increase the efficiency of the retail business".

Not wanting to feel left out, SIM wholesaling arm DSNS was not immune to falling sales either, falling 16 per cent to £20.8m. Sales in the US were up as DSNS set up operations stateside, but fell in Blighty as it exited airtime sales and because network operators changed their revenue share model.

The PJ Media sub - a provider of e-commerce platforms - also reported declining sales, down eleven per cent to £2.4m.

"Profitability reduced as pipeline projects were delayed or cancelled. We have reduced the cost base….[and] are placing a far greater emphasis upon opportunities within emerging markets," said CEO Anthony Catterson.

"We predict further short-term challenges in FY '14, but remain confident that there are strong medium to long term growth opportunities in the international SIM distribution markets, partner commerce services and software solutions for Mobile Network Operators and Mobile Virtual Network Operators," he said. ®

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