Stanley Gibbons
Stanley Gibbons shop reopened in April 2021.

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For the year ending March 31, 2021, sales fell 18% compared with the previous year to £10.8m (from £13.2m) and the full year pre-tax loss widened to £4.1m (from £2.5m). 

Chairman Harry Wilson said: “Over the last financial year we have had to work through a true ‘black swan event’ - the global pandemic crisis - which has impacted every aspect of our business. We had to adapt quickly to an exceedingly difficult situation and, while I can say we swiftly made highly effective changes to our day-to-day operations, it will come as no surprise that the financial performance was negatively affected.

“Within the enforced constraints over the last 18 months, we have strengthened the foundations of the company and we will now resume the strategy of rebuilding the improvements in financial performance which were achieved prior to the most recent financial year.”

The group highlighted a number of steps that it hoped would improve its performance in the coming year.

Its revamped shop in the Strand in central London reopened in April and it hopes “visitor numbers [will] jump particularly once tourist travel becomes easier”.

Stanley Gibbons

Stanley Gibbons's shop and headquarters at 399 Strand.

Stanley Gibbons also has high hopes for its purchase of the British Guiana 1c Magenta which it made at auction in June (reported in ATG No 2497) and will offer fractional ownership of the stamp in due course.

It is also planning the relaunch of Baldwin's auctions in the autumn after it split from its joint venture with St James’ Auctions earlier this year (ATG No 2488).

Wilson was upbeat for the future and said: “The collectables business has continued to be strong over the last year and we have seen many ‘dormant’ clients resuming their collecting interests together with new customers who are making contact. Stamps and coins have both made good prices this year particularly the rarer and higher priced items which have moved ahead.”

The company continues to sell unwanted stock from its subsidiary, furniture dealership Mallet.

“Going concern”

However the company warned that due to continued economic uncertainty “there is a material uncertainty relating to the group's position as a going concern”.

Among its issues is an ongoing cost relating to a property in New York (previously occupied by Mallett) where the sub tenant has not been paying rent. In turn Stanley Gibbons’ subsidiary has not paid rent to the landlord of the building. Stanley Gibbons said “discussions continue to try to reach an agreement with the landlord, the remaining lease liability including the £1m owed, is £4.5m”.

The stock market listed company is 58% owned by investment firm Phoenix. Phoenix provided £6.5m for the purchase of the British Guiana 1c Magenta and has granted a waiver of the defaults on loans to the group.

Stanley Gibbons Group said Phoenix is “a long term investor” and has given “no indication that it would withdraw its support before March 2023 when the loan facility is repayable”.

Graham Shircore, chief executive officer, was upbeat for the year ahead. He said:We have more active customers than we did at the start of the year and I believe that they are experiencing improved levels of service, however financially, we have of course been bloodied by recent events. My own view is that COVID and its impacts have been a short term negative but that this year will prove to be a long term positive for us from a business perspective. Already I know that the current year will be a busy one.”