Fitch has “turned the corner” with a move back into the black, according to Martin Beck, chairman and chief executive of the publicly quoted group.
“There is no looking back now,” says Beck of the previously beleaguered group, predicting a growth of around 30 staff in the US and UK offices this year. “We’re heading in the right direction.”
Beck was commenting on Fitch’s financial results announced last week. The group reported a small pre-tax profit of Ãº30 000 for the year to end-December 1994 on turnover of Ãº12.46m. This compares with a pre-tax loss of Ãº3.18m in 1993 on turnover of Ãº12.02m.
He maintains the UK business held the group back in the first half of 1994, but in the second half it returned to profit, largely through a reduction in operating costs. One of the biggest savings involved the disposal last October of the group’s King’s Cross headquarters in London and a move to smaller central London premises for the 75 UK staff. The sale of the King’s Cross building reduced the UK debt by Ãº3.45m, and Beck says the move has already saved the group some Ãº450 000 in costs.
According to Beck, Fitch’s US business continued to thrive, reporting a 10 per cent increase in turnover to Ãº9.02m and operating profits up 31 per cent to Ãº990 000 before exceptional costs and interest. There have been 27 new staff there during the year, bringing the total to 225, and US work is growing, particularly in the retail sector for clients such as Blockbuster.
Beck points to business wins in the first two months of 1995. UK orders are “up 36 per cent on last year”, he says, and the Paris office is faring well with clients such as supermarket chain Prix Unique. Retail, packaging, branding and interface design are sectors he highlights as growth areas.