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Conviviality blames ‘material error’ for £5.2m drop in expected profit

Conviviality Plc, owner of Bargain Booze, Bibendum PLB and Matthew Clark, has warned that a “material error” in its financial forecasts has meant that its profit will be £5.2 million less than expected, with share prices plummeting by as much as 68% following the announcement.

CEO of Conviviality Plc, Diana Hunter.

The UK’s largest independent alcohol wholesaler released a trading update yesterday for the 52 week period ending 29 April 2018.

Following the announcement, shares in Conviviality plunged by almost 60% in just over an hour in London to close at 123p yesterday (8 March.) Today, prices have fallen further, reaching a low of 97.5p before rising again to 107.2p at 9:53am this morning.

The company stated that following a review of its current year projects it expects that adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) will be “approximately 20% below current market expectations”.

In a statement, Conviviality added: “A material error in the financial forecasts of the Conviviality Direct business means the EBITDA for the current period will be impacted by approximately £5.2 million.

“Whilst our sales and orders have held up at levels ahead of last year, demonstrating that our one stop shop model is working, margins in Conviviality Direct have softened across January and February.

“In the revised guidance the company has assumed a continuation of the margin weakness for the remainder of the current financial year”.

Following the error, Conviviality has ensured that “a number of enhanced controls and disciplines” have been put in place.

The previous figure released for net debt of around £150 million for the same period remains unchanged. Conviviality also stated that it had not “seen any material weakness in overall demand” and that the previously announced cost savings “remain fully on track”.

It will provide a pre-close update on 27 March 2018.

In November last year, Conviviality reported an overall revenue increase of 9.2%, up £70m to £836m, for the first half of the year. The figures, however, do not include the financial results of either Bibendum PLB or Matthew Clark, which Conviviality acquired in 2016 and 2015 respectively.

In the year to 30 April 2017, the company saw its profits before tax soar by more than £13.4m – an increase of 147% on the same period the previous year – to around £22.5 million.

In December last year, Conviviality announced that it had made an offer to buy a chain of 127 UK-based Central Convenience retail stores for £25 million after its owner went into administration.

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