Creston reports "good growth" as revenue lifts 5%

Creston, the UK-listed marketing and PR group, has reported a five per cent rise in half-year revenue to £37.3m, with the company buoyed by "good growth" and the addition of several major clients.

Barrie Brien: Appointed as CEO
Barrie Brien: Appointed as CEO

The owner of Nelson Bostock, Cooney/Waters, Fever and Red Door Communications said that during the six months to 30 September, like-for-like revenue was up four per cent to £37.1m. Headline pre-tax profit grew six per cent to £3.8m, excluding factors such as the launch of Creston Unlimited rebranding across the group, along with property-related costs, acquisitions and other costs.

Revenue in its communications & insight division grew four per cent to £27m. Headline profit before interest and tax in the division fell from £3.6m to £3.2m as it incurred £500,000 of extra property charges relating to the co-location of Creston's London based companies, all of which sit within the arm.

Significant new business wins during the period included McCarthy & Stone, Sony Mobile, Arthritis Research, Allianz, BSkyB, Bentley, McCain, Activision, the Right to Buy digital contract, Vertu, Sainsbury’s Energy and the Department for Work and Pensions.

Revenue derived from international work for clients served by the communications & insight arm grew by four per cent to 20 per cent of the division’s revenue, and Creston said it hoped to extend the international offer under its recently announced partnership with Serviceplan.

Revenue in its health division, representing the remaining 28 per cent of Creston’s business, increased six per cent to £10.3m, with adjusted like-for-like revenue up four per cent.

The company stated: "In the US, our health business has maintained its good new business performance with wins during the period including work for National Meningitis Association, Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy and CDC. In the UK, new client work during the period included major wins from Sanofi, Baxter, Bayer, Pfizer and Novartis. Reflecting the great work we have performed for our clients, Health Unlimited has won 21 industry awards in the period."

Overall, digital and online revenue grew four per cent and continues to be over 50 per cent of group revenue.

The period saw major changes in Creston’s board, with the appointment of Barrie Brien as CEO, Kathryn Herrick as chief financial officer and Richard Huntingford as chairman.

Brien said: "The group has enjoyed good growth over the six months resulting in increased year-on-year revenue and headline profit, plus the addition of some major new clients and brands to our existing enviable list of international blue chip clients.

"A new executive management team has overseen a busy first half and the delivery of some major cornerstones of the new strategy, which the group announced in June 2014. These include the repositioning of Creston as an integrated agency group of specialists under the unifying Unlimited brand and our partnership with Serviceplan to extend our international offer."

Creston increased its dividend per share by 13 per cent to 1.35p.

Brien said: "The increase in the H1 dividend demonstrates our strong cash generation, and in light of our continued growth momentum we anticipate, as in previous years, increased revenues in the second half of this financial year. Therefore, while we remain cautious in light of the global macro-economic climate and its potential to affect our client budgets, the board confirms that current trading is in line with its expectations for the full year."

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