Bertrams books a profit after five months with Smiths News

<p>Wholesaler Bertrams reported underlying profit before tax of &pound;0.5m in the five months to the end of August, parent company Smiths News has said.</p><p>Bertrams was bought by Smiths News in March, in the period since then to 31st August the wholesaler had sales of &pound;53.5m. Smiths News did not reveal comparable year-on-year sales or profit figures. It said that sales were &quot;broadly flat, compared to a circa 1% year-on-year decline in the total sales of books to UK consumers&quot;. However, it added that the business was trading &quot;ahead of expectations&quot;.</p><p>The trading statement said: &quot;Bertrams continues to show every indication of being of an excellent strategic fit alongside our existing newspaper and magazine business. We are enthused about a number of commercial opportunities that exist and are committed to utilising Smiths News&#39; strong relationships with publishers and multiple retailers across the UK.&quot;</p><p>Smiths News said the profit performance was &quot;strong&quot; given a lack of working capital in the business and the fact the trading period fell outside of the peak trading time.<br /><br />Profit before tax at Smiths News fell &pound;2.5m to &pound;30.5m over the trading year. Sales increased 6.4% from &pound;1.24bn to &pound;1.3bn.The newspaper and magazine distributor bought Bertrams in March for &pound;8.6m.<br /><br />Bertrams&#39; previous parent company, Entertainment UK, collapsed in November 2008 after Woolworths went into administration. Since takeover, Smiths News has injected at least &pound;7m of working capital into the business and worked at returning Bertrams&#39; stock levels to normal. During the period when Bertrams&#39; future looked unclear, it had been trading on a pro-forma basis with the big five distributors.<br /><br />Earlier this month Bertrams began offering DVDs to customers from its Bertrams Library Services&#39; site in Leeds.</p>