Tough first half sees Flying Brands post £1.97m losses

MAIL order gardening and gifts group Flying Brands will not pay an interim dividend after tumbling into a first-half loss on the back of a poor performance by both of its major divisions.

But the Jersey-based company, whose largest shareholder is Sir Tom Hunter's West Coast Capital, said it remained positive despite a "very difficult" six months of trading.

The tough start to the year has forced Flying Brands to renegotiate its banking covenants while also scaling back its stake in discounting website Dealtastic.

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The group finished the six months to 1 July 1.97 million in the red. Sales in its dominant gardening business - which supplies plants, bird food and related equipment - fell 10 per cent to 9.95m. It said it suffered from weak consumer demand and increased competition.

Revenues in the gifts division rose to 5.03m from 3.7m previously, although this included additional sales from the acquisitions of Flowers Direct and Drake Algar. Losses rose from 320,000 to 830,000.

West Coast Capital is Flying Brands' largest shareholder at 27.1 per cent, then chief executive Stephen Cook at 11 per cent.

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