The MISSION Group plc (AIM: TMG), the alternative group for ambitious brands, today issues a trading update for the year ended 31 December 2020.
2020 was clearly a year like no other with the UK under some form of restrictions for over three quarters of the year, including an unplanned second National Lockdown in November. Despite this challenging backdrop the strong recovery in trading momentum experienced in early H2 has continued throughout the second half of the year, reversing the first half losses felt at the economic height of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the Group now expects full year headline PBT performance to be over £1m, comfortably ahead of market expectations.
The decisive and effective measures implemented from the outset of the pandemic, underpinned by our agile and empowered organisational structure, has enabled this result. Our phased COVID-19 management strategy of: survive, strive, thrive has also given us a strong platform for 2021 and beyond. Mindful of the ongoing restrictions resulting from the pandemic and our traditional second half trading bias, we again predict H2 2021 to out-perform H1 with a return to a pre-pandemic run rate by Q3 2021, leading to a strong start to 2022.
Strong cash management over the course of the year resulted in a reduction in year-end net bank debt to £1.3m (2019: £4.9m), representing a significant improvement on market expectations. This will leave us well placed to capitalise on the undoubted opportunities that 2021 will bring.
Reflecting on this strengthened position, the Board now proposes to reinstate the deferred 2019 final dividend of 1.53 pence per share. This dividend was committed to in our 2019 Annual Report (the period before COVID-19) and will be payable on 1 March 2021, to those shareholders on the share register as at close of business on 12 February 2021. We remain committed to our previously stated long term progressive dividend policy and will continue to monitor the situation as this year progresses in line with the performance of the Group.
Notice of results
The Group expects to announce its final results on 14 April 2021.
Commenting, James Clifton, Group Chief Executive of The MISSION Group plc, said:
"In a year that has brought huge challenges, our entrepreneurial culture has seen MISSION create new opportunities across the Group, ensuring we have been at the forefront of market recovery to deliver this strong performance. Increased collaboration across our Agencies has been underpinned by new acquisitions and the continued development of the MISSION Advantage, ensuring we are better positioned to make further progress against our strategic priorities in both 2021 and beyond. This is of course on top of all the hard work and dedication of all our employees in 2020 that gives us a new, strong foundation for growth."