Crisis-hit MBL cutting its losses

Peter Cowgill, chairman of Leyland-based MBL Group
Peter Cowgill, chairman of Leyland-based MBL Group
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An entertainment firm which slashed its workforce after losing a major contract has cut its losses.

MBL Group, which cut more than half of the 320-strong workforce at its Leyland headquarters last year, said it had seen sales rise in its high street stores.

The company has rebuilt itself as a direct-to-consumer business having moved away from the home entertainment market after losing a major contract to supply supermarket giant, Morrisons.

It has opened four stores, runs a Windsong business selling rare CDs and DVDs, launched a consumer website and is selling gardening equipment through its Garden Centre Online and Garden Bird Supplies subsidiaries.

Chairman Peter Cowgill, who is also executive chairman of North West retailer JD Sposrts, said MBL was now “better positioned to focus on its future.”

He said: “The performance in the first half of the year has been challenging, particularly in the group’s core home entertainment market, but remained in line with management’s expectations.

“The businesses core to the group’s future are Windsong International and Garden Bird Supplies, these combined businesses have the potential to deliver sustainable revenue and profit growth.

“The Group has achieved stability in the period following the turbulent and uncertain year it had experienced following the loss of its major customer in April 2011.”

He added the group was continuing to look at ways to “further strengthen the group’s prospects for the future.”

On Friday, it announced a 200 per centre rise in sales at its shops to £1.3m with gardening sales up £1m.

The sales at Windsong dropped 31 per cent to £3.7m and its wholesale business, MBL Direct, saw sales drop by fell 50 per cent to £1m.

In April 2011, MBL lost a deal to supply Morrisons with chart and non-chart titles which made up 78 per cent of its sales.