A COMPANY which specialises in running shops on cruise ships has been dealt a major blow. Avonmouth-based Harding Brothers saw its profits fall by two- thirds after it lost a lucrative contract with operator Celebrity Cruises . As well as seeing its profits fall the firm as has also had to find almost Pounds 1 million to pay for the cost of winding down the contract. Harding Brothers Holdings recorded pre-tax profits of Pounds 1.1m over the last 12 months, the equivalent of a 70 per cent year-on- year fall. Overall profits dropped by 16 per cent to Pounds 20.9 million while turnover was down five per cent to Pounds 108 million. A spokesman said: "The group's operating company was unsuccessful in its tender to retain the concession agreement covering three ships with Celebrity Cruises and as a result this contract came to an end, following a wind-down period of around six months. "The board actively oversaw a contract exit strategy that ensured that very little stock remained to be returned to the central warehouse at the end of the contract. "The result of this exit strategy was that profitability for the year was, as forecast in last year''''s directors'''' report, suppressed. "The cost of this exit strategy represented a non- recurring loss of Pounds 927,000 included within the result for the year under review." Founded in 1989 the cruise ship firm operates 11 ships.
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