John Menzies sees net debt fall as aviation arm gives firm a lift

DISTRIBUTION company John Menzies yesterday reported a 28 per cent rise in profit to £45m thanks to a strong performance in its aviation division.

Turnover across the group was up six per cent to £1.96bn.

Profits in aviation – which handled 700,000 flight turns, 71m passengers and 1.7m tonnes of cargo in 2010 – were up 56 per cent due to a rise in overseas cargo volumes and growth in the ground handling business.

The volcanic ash activity in April last year cost the firm around £2.2m in lost profits but this was offset by de-icing fees in January and December.

The distribution arm – which handles around 5.2m newspapers and 2.6 magazines every day –?saw operating profits up 3.2 per cent to £28.8m.

Net debt dropped by more than £33m to £99m. Weekly magazine sales dived 6.5 per cent, while monthlies held up better than expected, falling by three per cent.

Chairman Iain Napier said: “Whilst market conditions for the distribution division are challenging, the (aviation) division is an excellent cash generator.”