Menzies expands cargo arm as profits rise 12%

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JOHN Menzies pledged to seek even bigger deals for its aviation business after it snapped up two baggage handling operations in deals worth £14 million.

The firm also unveiled “solid” first-year results yesterday despite tough trading conditions reducing profits in its distribution arm by 12 per cent to £11.8 million. Its aviation business, which works at 134 airports across the globe, grew operating profits 10 per cent to £15.5m.

The Edinburgh-based company acquired Australian firm Skystar for £7.7m and Colombian cargo company Desacol in a deal worth up to £6.4m.

Skystar works from eight airports in Australia and New Zealand and serves airlines including Jetstar and Quantas. Menzies said the deal to acquire Bogota-based Desacol will help expansion into other Latin American countries.

Paula Bell, the firm’s new group finance director, expects the company’s aviation division to benefit from consolidation in the sector after Menzies’ rival Swissport International recently announced the purchase of Servisair for €450m (£385.5m).

She said: “Our strategy is to grow. We will seek larger acquisitions rather than just bolt ons. There are other things out there that are medium sized.

“The Servisair deal is quite a big one to absorb. There may be some fallout that will benefit us as contracts are renewed and they [Swissport] digest their rather large acquisition.”

Menzies reported a marginal rise in turnover to £997.9m as a net increase of 35 contracts boosted income at the aviation arm. Overall group pre-tax profit rose to £18.4m from £16.4m.

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