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Cuts to continue as Marlborough Stirling refocuses

Marlborough Stirling is closing its loss-making businesses and cutting its staff by 5 per cent.

At the company&#39s annual general meeting last week, chief executive Mike O&#39Leary, who took over in March, also identified areas for further cost savings.

Chairman Huw Evans is to retire as soon as a suitable replacement has been found.

Evans said the group&#39s three distinct but complementary businesses, life and pensions, mortgages and The Exchange, offer the “potential to transform the financial services market”.

He said last year was a year of consolidation for the group in which it refocused the business behind its main client propositions and cut operating costs to stabilise its financial performance.

Turnover in 2003 was £114.6m, down from £121m in 2002, with strong growth in outsourcing and a good performance for The Exchange offset by weakness in software and consultancy.

The company reacted to the market downturn by cutting costs and reducing staff by 15 per cent from 2002.

Annualised total underlying costs fell by almost £14m between the second halves of 2002 and 2003. Profits fell from £9.3m to £10.4m.

Evans said the early months of this year have seen the company&#39s turnover increase to almost £90m, with the mortgage software business being particularly buoyant. The company has significant new software contracts with Bradford & Bingley and a major client in Canada, as well as momentum from regulation-driven upgrade work in the UK.

O&#39Leary is to undertake a full strategic review of the options available to the business and its shareholders.

Evans says: “Mike has a considerable depth of knowledge in our clients&#39 markets and experience in leading and developing profitable business.”

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