De La Rue chief to step down as firm announces strategic review

The chief executive of De La Rue, Martin Sutherland, has announced plans to step down from the banknote and passport-maker after five years.

The announcement was made as the Basingstoke-based company revealed it has launched a three-year strategic review of its business following the loss of its contract to print British passports.

De La Rue also blamed “growing competitive pressure in the banknote print market” for a downturn in performance, as profits dived over the past year.

Operating profits for the year to March 2019 plunged 74% to £31.5 million, down from a £123 million operating profit the previous year.

Revenue jumped 14% to £564.8 million, significantly driven by growth in its currency division.

Currency sales increased by 20% to £447.1 million, while it was weighed down by a decline in ID revenue, which fell by 4% to £78.4 million.

Last year the Government announced that it was changing passport suppliers, with Franco-Dutch firm Gemalto now set to produce the country’s post-Brexit blue passports.

FTSE 100 photos
FTSE 100 photos

De La Rue said it has now started the three-year transformation programme with an aim of delivering annual savings of more than £20 million by the full-year 2022, to mitigate pressures affecting the banknote industry.

Mr Sutherland said: “As we look ahead, the conclusion of the UK passport contract in 2020 and the growing competitive pressure in the banknote print market present some significant challenges for our business.

“To partially mitigate against this, today we have set out a three-year cost reduction programme.

“In addition, we will be proposing a reorganisation of our business over the next 12 months designed to enhance our strategic focus and generate greater efficiencies.”

Mr Sutherland has agreed to step down as chief executive, but will continue to serve in the role until a successor is identified, the company said.

Chairman Philip Rogerson said: “For the past five years Martin has brought tremendous energy and strategic insight to moving the company from a traditional manufacturing business to a service-oriented business building on leading-edge technological solutions, as well as refocusing the business on its core strengths and bringing greater balance to the portfolio.

“The company is now well positioned to move to the next phase of this journey.”