Quercus puts growth plans on hold

<p>Independent publisher Quercus has put its plans for expansion and further recruitment on hold and is to undertake a review of the number of staff after failing to make a profit this year. But said it had no redundancies planned. Quercus told the City this morning that its annual profit would be reduced to &quot;breakeven&quot; because of the difficult trading environment.</p><p>Mark Smith, chief executive of Quercus, said sales during November and December had disappointed despite &quot;a record month&quot; in October. &quot;Until six weeks ago, we thought we would be expanding considerably and had investment in staff earmarked for both trade and contract divisions,&quot; he said. &quot;But because of the fall off in sales over the last couple of months we are putting those plans on hold.&quot;</p><p>Further cost-cutting measures, such as pay freezes, were also being considered. Smith said possible redundancies could not be ruled out. &quot;We are reviewing the business, and it may be the case [that there are redundancies] but there are no plans as yet,&quot; he said. &quot;We are looking at not taking on further staff because growing next year could be a challenge, but we are having a look at all our costs, and tidying everything up.&quot;</p><p>Quercus successfully raised some &pound;1.75m through a share issue earlier this month. However brand management group Pentland, which underwrote the offer, took more than three-quarters of the total. At the time Quercus announced it would be marginally cutting back its list for 2009.<br /><br />Any decision on staffing is expected to be made before the company breaks for the festive holidays. &quot;We do hope to have a plan in place this side of Christmas so everyone can come back in the new year and know where the land lies.&quot; Smith stressed the move came because the company was failing to meet the high expectations for growth, adding 2008 would see total revenue of roughly &pound;10.5m, compared with &pound;8.7m the year before.<br /><br />Quercus, which trades on a calendar year, will release its 2008 results by March. A trading update is expected during January.</p>