THE UK’s biggest printing firm posted a 28% rise in annual profits after cost-cutting and new services helped it battle online competition.
St Ives, whose clients include publishers Penguin, HarperCollins and Bloomsbury, has seen more advertising move online while its book printing has been threatened by the advent of e-book readers such as Amazon’s Kindle.
While remaining a major book printer, it has developed into point-of-sale, exhibitions material and direct mail.
Lower costs and investment in digital printing and print-on-demand have also offset pressure on sales, which rose by 2% to £297.2m. Profits improved to £16.9m in the year to July 29.
The firm sold its magazine printing arm in March for £20m, though it retained ownership of plants in Peterborough, Plymouth and Roche in Cornwall.
The group said it expected marketing services to account for between 30% and 40% of profits within three years, up from about 25% at present when including the recent acquisitions.
Analysts said the figures were ahead of expectations, especially a 50% increase in the dividend to 5.25p.
Mike Murphy, an analyst at broker Numis, said despite the tough economic background, the group should also make modest progress in 2012 due to action taken on costs.