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Wednesday, 29 November, 2000, 18:24 GMT
Granada sales jump
The Street's Hilda Ogden
Coronation Street: Long-running Granada favourite
Granada Media has reported a jump in sales and earnings in its first full-year results since it demerged and floated in the summer.

But the profit figures were at the lower end of expectations and the reaction of investors was lukewarm. Shares ended the day virtually unchanged at 383 pence.

The company, which was spun off from hospitality and catering group Granada Compass in July, said the year had been one of "rapid development on every front".

Chairman Charles Allen said: "We have grown our core business and also completed a number of key strategic moves.

"We floated 20% of the company on the London Stock Exchange, led consolidation in ITV with the acquisition of United News & Media's television assets, created Boxclever by merging our TV and video rental business with Radio Rentals, and invested in new businesses and expanded internationally."

'Quite encouraging'

Overall, Granada's pre-tax profits, before the costs of digital television, new media and one-off items, came to 301m, compared with 296m a year earlier.

Turnover in the year to 30 September rose 9% to 1.09bn while earnings before tax, interest and depreciation rose 11% to 279m.

Analysts said the results were "quite encouraging" but that it was difficult to compare figures because this was the first set of results since the flotation.

Mr Allen said the company would be focusing on "big event" television and consolidating the online strategy between ITV and Ondigital, which it owns jointly with Carlton.

Ondigital is not expected to return a profit until 2004 but is projected to reach one-million subscribers by the end of the year.

Granada Media also said its UK TV rental joint venture with Japan's Nomura would close about 360 of its 900 retail outlets once it had united its brands under the Boxclever name.

It said fewer than 500 out of almost 13,000 jobs would be lost as a result, with many staff in closed outlets transferring to larger operations.

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