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Archant chairman says company is in good shape

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Archant chairman, Simon Bax, has written to shareholders saying that current performance is broadly in line with expectations and that the company should be debt-free by the end of 2014.

Writing in lieu of an interim statement, and following recent changes in the company’s senior management, Simon also said that the company hopes to be able to shortly announce a replacement for chief executive Adrian Jeakings, who stepped down at the end of July.

“This is a very special company, with a strong set of values and a reputation for integrity and trust that is deeply rooted in the communities that it serves,” he wrote. “This is also a company that is undergoing a lot of change as it adapts to the structural challenges facing the industry. Based on the short time that I have been here, my belief is that Archant is moving in the right direction. There is an energy and an enthusiasm that is palpable. We can be proud of the strong brands that make up the Group and be confident in their future.”

Simon paid tribute to Adrian Jeakings after 12 years at Archant: “Adrian has led the company through an extremely difficult period for the entire industry and has worked tirelessly to transform the Group. He leaves it in good shape financially and with an excellent management team.”

“I expect to be able to announce shortly the appointment of a new chief executive,” said Simon. “Following that appointment we will complete a strategic review of the business so that we can present you with a vision, a summary of our strategy and a clear view of priorities.

Commenting on current financial results he said: “Our half-year financial performance is broadly in line with expectations, and we currently expect reported numbers to be at similar levels to last year. A number of initiatives are beginning to show results, though we still face a difficult operating environment in many parts of the business. Cash performance remains strong and we expect this to continue in the second half of the year and anticipate having no bank debt at year end.

“Unfortunately, our long running dispute with HMRC continues and we do not expect this to be concluded in 2014.” he wrote.

Simon concluded: “Although much has been written about the challenges facing our industry I strongly believe that there will always be a need and desire to receive local news and information and it is up to us to be brave and innovative in how we reach our audience and meet the needs of our clients. I am looking forward to an exciting future for Archant.”

© Archant Ltd 2013