Results for the financial year ending 2 August were again complicated by the charges associated with acquisitions and restructuring at the business.

Underlying pre-tax profits increased by 10.7% to £26.8m, on group turnover down 3.2% to £317m. St Ives said that on a like-for-like basis sales were in line with the previous year.

Restructuring costs rose from £5.9m to £8.7m, including £2.4m related to the closure of the Leeds direct mail site. The group’s bottom line profit was £5.6m.

Following a swathe of acquisitions in marketing services, and the sell-off and closure of non-core print operations, chief executive Patrick Martell said the fundamental realignment of the business had been achieved.

“Our transition has been a success,” he stated, pointing to a 35% share of annualised profits from its £64m turnover marketing services wing, which was described as being “ahead of our repositioning target”.

Marketing services achieved underlying operating margins of 11.8%. Its operating profit of £7.6m was “more than the operating profit of the entire group in 2009”, noted St Ives.

However, 2009 was the group’s ‘annus horribilis’ when it posted its first-ever loss.

St Ives’ print operations are now focused on books wing Clays, which accounts for 28% of print revenue, point-of-sale specialist SP Group, and exhibitions and events business Service Graphics.

Yesterday St Ives announced the sale of its St Ives Direct business to Cogent B2B, which Martell said completed its exit from “failing” or “commoditised” print markets.

“We now have a strong marketing services business, three strong print business that are market leaders in their fields, and a strong balance sheet. I couldn’t be more pleased,” Martell said.

“The restructuring of print has now been properly completed and we can focus on growth, not restructuring. We have invested in all our print businesses and have spent about £4m-£5m of new equipment in the new financial year, and we are only a month into it,” he added.

Martell said St Ives still had the financial headroom to make major acquisitions if the right opportunity arises.

Significantly, the group’s results also show a small surplus in its pension scheme, which last year had a deficit of £20m, and Martell praised the work of finance director Matt Armitage and the fund’s trustees in controlling the liability.

A decade ago the deficit in the scheme under FRS17 was almost £62m and St Ives has paid tens of millions into the scheme since to right it.

Armitage said: “We take our pension commitment seriously, unlike lots of businesses.”

St Ives shares hit a 52-week high of 174.69p last week, but slipped by 3.75p to 169.5p in early trading this morning.