Profits fall by 74% at burgundy passport manufacturer after French firm given blue passport contract

PUBLISHED: 14:48 31 May 2019 | UPDATED: 15:16 31 May 2019

Brexiteer Andrew Rosindell with a mock-up of a blue passport. Photograph: Archant.

Brexiteer Andrew Rosindell with a mock-up of a blue passport. Photograph: Archant.

Archant

The chief executive of a company that had hoped to make the new blue passports for the United Kingdom after Brexit has resigned after operating profits fell by 74% after the government awarded the contract to a French company.

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Martin Sutherland announced plans to step down from the banknote and passport-maker after five years.

The Basingstoke-based company De La Rue had been producing the burgundy passports which is synonmous with the UK's membership of the European Union.

It had bid to produce the new post-Brexit blue passports so that it would continue to be manufactured on British soil, but the government instead awarded the contract to Franco-Dutch rival Gemalto.

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

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In light of this the company revealed it will launch a three-year strategic review.

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."

Sutherland will continue to serve in the role until a successor is identified, the company said.

The outgoing boss said last year it was "disappointing and surprising" that "this icon of British identity is going to be manufactured in France".

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