Menzies Distribution has declared 2009 a "stellar year" after gaining new business following the demise of rival Dawson News last summer.

The newspaper and magazine wholesaler said sales increased 4.5% to £1.22bn in the year to 31 December, with operating profits up 19.6% to £28.6m. Profits had been boosted by increased cost control, new productivity initiatives and an extra week of trading, the company said.

Chairman William Thomson added that the wholesaler had gained £180m worth of new contracts during the year, giving Menzies a 43% share of the market. £60m worth of contracts had already been gained and the rest would migrate to Menzies in 2010.

However, market conditions had remained "difficult" with like-for-like magazine sales down 5.5% and newspaper like-for-like sales down 1.6%. Sticker sales bucked the trend by rising 3.6%. "Sales in the year so far are well up on last year as a result of the impact of the contract gains," added Thomson. "The focus for the year remains on cost control and the development of additional revenue streams."

Menzies' parent company John Menzies, which also operates Menzies Aviation, reported a 3.5% increase in overall sales to £1.7bn on pre-tax profits up 122% to £22m. "We intend to continue to grow both of our divisions by contract wins and selective growth opportunities while continuing to focus on debt reduction," Thomson said.