Turnaround takes effect at Flying Brands


Flying Brands posted a 77.6-percent jump in profit before tax
from ongoing business for the first half of the year. For the six
months ended 3rd July, the parent company of Flying Flowers,
Gardening Direct, and Listen2 posted pretax profit from ongoing
business of £1.9 million, compared with just under £1.1
million a year ago. This increase came despite a 4-percent drop
in sales from ongoing business, to £18.2 million.

The improved profitability speaks to the success of Flying
Brands’ cost-cutting programme. All the brands posted
improvements in contribution margin as operating efficiencies
improved in the call centre, growing, and despatch operations. To
realise additional financial benefits, Flying Brands has
reorganised its printing and postage procurement operations,
which should provide “significant benefit” in
2010.

On the top-line portion of the ledger, Flying Brands’ gardening
division saw sales increase 1 percent, with spring sales at
Gardening Direct up 8 percent. But sales fell 7 percent within
the gifts division and 15 percent within the entertainment group.
In its statement, Flying Brands said that in regards to Flying
Flowers, “It is apparent that the rebranding exercise last
year will not of itself be enough to return this brand to
profitable customer growth, and we are currently undertaking a
more thorough review of our product range, pricing, and
marketing.” To that end it has already appointed a new
carrier, which has resulted in fewer delivery complaints, and has
signed an agreement with Teleflorist to enable it to offer a
same-day service by local florists.

And despite announcing the closure of its Greetings Direct
business in July 2008, Flying Brands has decided to continue
servicing its UK customers and will mail to them until December
2009. The performance of the greeting-cards business has been
“much better than expectations” and even contributed
a profit of £830,000 during the period.

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