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Markets News

UPDATE 1-Outsourcer Mitie says first-half more resilient than expected

(Adds details from statement, executive comment, background)

Nov 19 (Reuters) - Mitie Group said on Thursday cost cuts eased a blow to first-half profit from the earlier-announced loss of a pair of major contracts and COVID-19 driven dip in project and other variable business, especially for its aviation and financial sector clients.

The British outsourcing sector has struggled in recent years with Carillion collapsing in 2018, followed by Interserve’s slide into administration last year, with the pandemic and renewed Brexit uncertainty exacerbating the industry’s woes.

Mitie, which provides a range of engineering, security, cleaning and care services, said operating profit for six months ended Sept. 30 fell 35% to 21.5 million pounds ($28.48 million), while total revenue dropped 9.8%.

“Our financial performance in the first six months of the year proved more resilient than expected with a much improved second quarter,” Chief Executive Officer Phil Bentley said.

The company also confirmed that it would not declare an interim dividend to save cash. Cost savings have been Bentley’s focus since taking charge in 2016 to revive Mitie’s fortunes.

Mitie, which manages some of London’s biggest landmarks and provides critical services to public offices including the NHS, the police and the Bank of England, said its deep cleaning services helped it win new customers including Marks & Spencer, Morrisons and Royal London during the period.

The outsourcer also said its deal for rival Interserve’s facilities arm is expected to be completed by month-end. Britain’s competition regulator cleared the deal earlier this week and decided not to broaden its probe for competition concerns.

$1 = 0.7550 pounds Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva

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