Fitch shareholders see dividends from profits

A surge in UK profits has helped Fitch to pay its first dividend to shareholders in more than five years. Riding on its financial success, it now plans to push its business further into continental Europe and the Far East.

Shareholders will receive 0.5p per share following a 20.2 per cent rise in pre-tax profits overall for the year to end-December 1996, to just over 1.8m on turnover up 18.9 per cent to some 19.5m. UK profits were up a massive 67.4 per cent before costs to 914 000 on turnover up 21 per cent to 4.8m.

The publicly quoted group attributes the hike in UK profits to an increase in its client base and improved productivity. But its US business saw a 3.3 per cent drop in profits because of the start-up of the San Francisco office in 1995, at a cost of 200 000.

European chief executive Jean-François Bentz says Fitch is looking to open a new office on the Continent this year. He cannot say where it will be, but says it will run along similar lines to the London HQ. Fitch already has what Bentz calls “a support office” in Paris, which he expects to benefit from the continental push.

Other expansion plans centre on Osaka, Japan, where Fitch is planning to set up “a more structured office” around air-conditioning client Duskin, says Bentz. It is also looking to develop its product design work for clients around the Pacific Rim.

Fitch chairman and group chief executive Martin Beck says orders are already up for 1997 and he anticipates a further upturn in the consultancy’s fortunes.

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