Bunting to head Connect’s integrated Smiths and Tuffnells business

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Connect Group has appointed Jonathan Bunting, previously managing director of the news & media division, to the role of chief operating officer, where he will have responsibility for operations across the Smiths News and Tuffnells businesses.

The group recently confirmed its strategy to bring together its news & media and parcel freight divisions, together with supporting group functions, into one integrated structure.

It expects this to result in cost synergies between News & Media and Parcel Freight, group overhead and structure, as well as providing a broader customer proposition leveraging the combined strengths of our two specialist distribution networks, creating additional growth opportunities.

In a trading update at the end of July, Connect said that in the 45 week period to 15 July, sales in Smiths News remained in line with its strategic forecast; total revenue of £1,125.8m decreased by 4.1 per cent with newspapers continuing to perform more strongly than magazines.

The group expects planned efficiencies of £5m in the year to be fully delivered. It said a new regional hub at Hemel Hempstead is now operational and making good progress.

In the Parcel Freight business, total revenue of £157.3m increased by 4.0 per cent driven largely by price increases.

“Despite a successful spring peak for consignment volumes, market competition is limiting revenue growth, and the efficiency benefits from our investments in the business are coming through more slowly than anticipated. As a consequence, overall performance has followed the same trend as the first half of the year.”

Pass My Parcel’s volume run rate continued to increase, and total parcels handled in June 2017 averaged 23,400 per week, up 149 per cent on the same period last year.

Total group revenue for continuing operations of £1,497.5m decreased by 1.3 per cent year to date, a consequence of the anticipated decline of newspaper and magazine sales, offsetting revenue growth in our other markets.

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