Dr Peter Fellner Chairman
I am pleased to report that Consort has delivered another good performance with underlying growth across the business. We have also made further progress on our development and innovation pipelines.
The Group's revenue increased by 5.8% to £311.1m with underlying sales growth in both divisions. Group EBIT before special items increased by 6.8% to £42.7m. The group is in a strong financial position with gearing at 1.7x Net Debt/EBITDA.
Innovation & development
We have continued to make solid progress on the Bespak development pipeline including starting to prepare for future product launches of our innovative Syrina® / Vapoursoft® auto-injectors. In Aesica, we have been awarded a multi-year supply agreement for an innovative API product as well as new finished dose and packaging contracts.
As part of our Board succession plan, I have decided that, after thirteen years on the Board including nine years as Chairman, the time is right to identify my successor. I have therefore informed the Board of my intention to step down, once the Board has found my successor. The Board has asked William Jenkins, our Senior Independent Director to lead the search for a new Chairman. I look forward to sharing further details as soon as a successor is appointed.
Our General Counsel and Company Secretary, John Ilett, has left the Group and we have appointed Andrew Jackson who will be joining us in early September from KP Snacks Limited. We thank John for his contribution and look forward to Andrew joining the Group. In the meantime, Paul Hayes, our Chief Financial Officer, has undertaken the role of Company Secretary supported by Iain Lindsay who is our Interim General Counsel.
Consort has delivered another year of good underlying revenue and profit growth in both divisions. Bespak has continued to grow its respiratory business while making great progress on its innovative Syrina® / VapourSoft® auto-injectors. Aesica is growing sales and margins supported by new API, finished dose and packaging contracts in a streamlined business structure.
We continue to deliver our organic growth strategy while considering potential acquisitions that allow access to new geographic markets and complementary technologies. The Board is confident of Consort's future prospects supported by a robust financial position and a strong development pipeline. The Board's expectations for the year remain unchanged.
The Board recommends a final dividend of 13.56p per ordinary share (FY2017: 13.21p) making a total dividend for the year of 21.0p (FY 2017: 20.3p). Subject to approval at the AGM on 5 September 2018, the dividend will be paid on 26 October 2018.
On behalf of the Board I would like to thank all of our people for living the Company's values and their contributions and commitment during the year.