End of era as John Menzies offloads distribution arm

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Logistics group John Menzies has entered into a conditional agreement to sell its print media division Menzies Distribution to investment funds managed by “transformational” private equity investor Endless LLP in a £74.5 million deal.

It said the proposed disposal creates a global aviation services business “operating in a structural growth market and marks Menzies’ exit from the market for print media and retail logistics”, enabling it to expand in the structurally growing aviation services market.

The Edinburgh-based group was founded in 1833 with the opening of a bookshop on Edinburgh’s Princes Street, which began selling The Scotsman newspaper over the counter and Menzies became known for retailing and wholesaling.

As part of the disposal, Menzies will retain a 10 per cent equity stake in the business, while Menzies Distribution will be responsible for the funding of Section B of the Menzies defined benefit pension scheme, which represents 17 per cent of the assets and liabilities of that scheme as at 31 December.

John Menzies chairman Dermot Smurfit said: “I am delighted to announce today the sale of Menzies Distribution. In doing so we create a ‘pure play’ aviation services business that operates in a structural growth market and is very well-placed to take advantage of the many exciting opportunities that exist.”

Upon completion of the disposal, which is subject to shareholder approval and expected to complete in September, Forsyth Black, currently president and managing director of Menzies Aviation, will be appointed chief executive of John Menzies and will be supported by Giles Wilson, chief financial officer and John Geddes, group company secretary and corporate affairs director.

Smurfit added: “In his role as Menzies CEO, Forsyth Black will now focus on growing our market share in the aviation services market, increasing our operating margins and continuing to deliver excellent services to our customers.”

The firm is set to report its interim results on 14 August.