Billings hit £404m at gift card firm Park; CEO to retire

Birkenhead-based prepaid gift, reward and savings card firm Park Group said it achieved a 5.1% advance in billings to £404.5 million in the year to March 31.

Park said its CEO Chris Houghton has indicated his intention to retire and that a “comprehensive process will be put in place to appoint a suitable successor.”

The firm reported 4.2% growth in profit before tax to £12.4 million and is proposing to hike its total dividend for the year by 5.5% to 2.9p per share.

Park said orders for Christmas 2017 were again ahead of the previous year.

Revenue rose to £310.9 million from £302.5 million but the firm said: “Billings, as highlighted in previous reports, is a more appropriate measure of the level of activity of the group than revenue.”

Park’s chairman Laura Carstensen said: “After more than thirty years of service, leading the business through a successful evolution of its customer offering, Chris Houghton, our chief executive officer, has indicated his intention to retire.

“A comprehensive process will begin immediately to appoint his successor and Chris has indicated that he will remain in the role until a suitable successor has been identified, appointed and is in place.

“Whilst there is no retirement date to report as yet, I can confirm that he will remain as chief executive officer for at least a year from today.

“This timeframe allows the company to instigate a well-planned and orderly handover period.”

Nonetheless, Park Group shares were trading lower following the news.

Carstensen added: “The current year has started well as we have, again, maintained the progress of the previous period.

“The outlook for our corporate and consumer businesses is positive, with order books ahead of their position at the same time last year.

“We will continue to deliver against our strategy, focusing on excellent customer service and product innovation, to grow our customer bases and broaden the range of products and services we can offer to them.”