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January 20, 1994


By CBR Staff Writer

Shares in Gestetner Holdings Plc yesterday took an early eightpenny dive to 153 pence after the office equipment supplier announced a full-year pre-tax loss occasioned by total exceptional charges of UKP50m. By far the biggest of these is a UKP43.5m restructuring charge to cover the cost of measures intended to reduce costs. The company also wrote down software costs capitalised under a software development programme and made provisions for rent and other ongoing costs on surplus properties. Gestetner, 29.5% owned by Ricoh Co, says that significant restructuring has already taken place or is under way in France, Spain, the UK, Italy and Canada. Unit sales of copiers, digital duplicators and facsimile machines were all ahead of last year but margins fell in most areas as market prices failed to reflect increases in costs, so that trading profits in the equipment division fell to UKP29.2m from UKP51.1m last time. An 11% increase in sales is largely accounted for by currency fluctuations – in constant currency terms, sales were up only 1%. Net debt rose to UKP128.9m from UKP94.7m, which was largely a reflection of the trading results for the year; debt-to-equity gearing rose to 65.9% compared with 36.3% a year ago, so A significant reduction in net debt is a major management objective for 1994, chairman David Thompson said. We all know about Europe, but the company reckons that the outlook for north America and Latin America is more optimistic and Asia offers opportunities for significant growth. Actions already taken, or in the process of being implemented, will result in operating improvements which, together with rigorous control of costs, will enable us to exploit growth opportunities as the major economies in Europe recover, the company said.

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