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May 15, 2013

Centaur reveals exits for chief executive and business publishing MD amid profit warning

By Gavriel Hollander

The chief executive of Centaur has stood down amid a profit warning for the business publisher.

Geoff Wilmot, who took over the top job at Centaur in 2006, will leave the company at the end of the financial year in June when he will hand over to chief financial officer Mark Kerswell as interim chief executive. Tim Potter, managing director of Centaur’s business publishing division has also "decided to leave Centaur".

In a statement to the stock market, Centaur said it anticipated full-year profits for 2012/13 will fall “below market expectation”. The board said it “expects to deliver modest profit growth” compared to last year’s £8 million pre-tax profit but the performance was not in line with previous expectations.

Total revenue was down 2 per cent in the four months to 30 April, the compoany said, compared to a 3 per cent decline recorded in the previous six months. The board said it did not expect revenue to grow before the end of the financial year next month.

The board went on to blame “weakness in print advertising”, particularly on its financial titles for the continuing sluggish performance. The group’s financial titles include Money Marketing, Mortgage Strategy and Fund Strategy. It also publishes Creative Review, Marketing Week and The Lawyer.

Recruitment revenue has also continued to underperform against previous expectations, while the group has been hit by losses on the overseas operations of its Econsultancy digital marketing arm, which was bought for £12 million last July.

In February, Centaur reported a £5m pre-tax loss for the second half of last year, despite growing revenue by 14 per cent to £30.4 million.  

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Commenting on the group’s current financial situation, chairman Patrick Taylor said: “Although disappointed by the weak performance in our print, recruitment and overseas revenues we are continuing to make good progress in diversifying our revenue mix towards higher growth digital and events.

"Looking ahead, our investment in existing and new products has given us a strong pipeline of new digital platforms and event launches.”

He said the outlook for 2014 “remains positive” and highlighted deferred revenues of £19 million due to come in during the next financial year.

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