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Blur Group says "current trend is promising"

The group has been guilty of over-promising in the past, but with a stronger balance sheet it might now have a shot at achieving critical mass before money starts to get tight again
Reboot button
The fallen stock market star is starting to repair its reputation

Blur Group PLC’s (LON:BLUR) reboot has started well, with the group seeing quarter-on-quarter improvements in gross profit and revenue.

The e-commerce enabler raised a much-needed £1.75mln from investors in July, which will give its proposed new-look board the financial muscle to take it forward and “optimise the business”.

READ: Blur Group encouraged by repeat business and new customer wins

Major backer Robert Keith, a former director at software group Eidos (the ‘Championship Manager’ people) and a big stakeholder in drug developer Silence Therapeutics PLC (LON:SLN), used the placing to increase his stake in the e-commerce enabler.

He subscribed for 30mln shares to take his overall stake in blur to approximately 25%, the company revealed on Friday afternoon.

blur had been in discussions with potential investors for a few weeks now in a bid to shore up its balance sheet.

Strengthened balance sheet and new board

The group’s cash balance as at November 22 was £2.71mln, giving a reshaped board the firepower to put into place plans that are primarily focused on generating new enterprise customers from the current pipeline over the next year or so.

Part of the new strategy is to maximise efficiencies within the group and the company is targeting a reduction in management team and board salaries, as well as exploring the possibility of better value office spaces.

The company has a new chairman, David Rowe, while Preeti Mardia, Richard Rae and Richard Croft were brought in as non-execs. Between them, they’ve agreed to stump up £300,000 as part of the placing, with Rowe accounting for half of that (£150,000).

In early August, company founder Philip Letts ceased to be the chief executive, with former chief commercial officer Laurence Cook taking over the reins.

His pedigree looks good: he has 25 years' experience in the information and communication technology industry, having led global sales teams at industry giants Siemens, Cable & Wireless and NTL.

His task is to ensure blur starts fulfilling the potential investors saw in the company when it was a stock market star in 2013, when the share price rose from around 78p to 577p.

‘Promised a lot but delivered very little’

“blur has promised a lot but is yet to deliver to shareholders,” admitted Rowe.

 “Its core proposition of applying automation to the enterprise procurement process has a number of strong prospects in the pipeline.

“The task of the restructured board is to ensure that the company has the right approach and support to convert these prospects into reference customers in the next 12 months and build on its AI [artificial intelligence] capabilities.

A brief trading update issued in November revealed management expects the fourth quarter to see another quarter-on-quarter improvement.

"I have been encouraged by the increasing rate of repeat business we are getting from existing customers and the addition of significant new customers,” said Laurence Cook.

“Although there is usually a lead time between the signing of a new customer and subsequently the building of momentum on the platform, the current trend is promising. It is reassuring that we now have sufficient resources to develop the business further over the next few years," he added.

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