Billboard Firm Hit Hard by Downturn in Advertising; FABERGE PLANNING MAJOR OUTDOOR AD CAMPAIGN
Byline: Larry Neild
ADVERTISING billboard firm Maiden, the company founded in Liverpool in the 1920s by Arthur Maiden, was yesterday pushed into the red after tough conditions across the sector wiped out first-half profits.
The group, whose billboards appear on railway land, said the six months to June 30 had been challenging as the advertising downturn took hold.
Sales slid 5.1pc to pounds 39m, dragging operating profits before goodwill down from pounds 5.3m to pounds 1.4m.
Including one-off costs, pre-tax losses came in at pounds 2.3m against pre-tax profits of pounds 2.2m.
The group also decided against increasing its interim dividend, and is maintaining the payout at 2p per share.
The figures failed to inspire the City and shares in Maiden fell 12.5p at 237.5p in morning trading, a 5pc slide.
However, chief executive Ron Zeghibe attempted to sound a more positive note.
He said: ``We have continued to invest in our estate and strengthened our position as a leader in outdoor advertising in the UK.''
And Mr Zeghibe was cautiously optimistic for the future: ``We are continuing to see a slow but steady improvement in market conditions.
``Based on this momentum and the fact that we have already booked 94pc of last year's revenues, we expect to increase our revenues this year over those in 2001.''
The advertising downturn has hit businesses across the sector.
All have suffered as companies tighten their belts and cut advertising spend in the face of the weak global economy.
The company moved its headquarters to London some years ago, but still has a base in Tithebarn Street, Liverpool.
LEVER Faberge, the company that produces Persil soap on Merseyside, is planning a 70pc increase in outdoor advertising across Merseyside and the north west in the coming year.
The company, part of the huge Unilever group, is taking a leaf out of Port Sunlight based William Lever, who used massive outdoor advertising more than a century ago to promote Sunlight Soap. …