The TClarke Directors are proposing a final dividend of 3.65p (2018: 3.34p) per ordinary share totalling £1.6 million (2018: £1.4 million). Subject to approval at the Annual General Meeting, the final dividend will be paid on 22nd May 2020 to shareholders on the register as at 24th April 2020. The shares will go ex-dividend on 23rd April 2020. This dividend has not been accrued at the balance sheet date. A dividend reinvestment plan is available to shareholders.
Other financial highlights include:
The Group's underlying performance for the year ended 31st December 2019 was strong, resulting in an increase in earnings per share of 22.3% to 18.81p (2018: 15.38p). This growth has been as a result of TClarke achieving an operating margin of 3% (2018: 2.7%) whilst at the same time growing revenues by 2% to £334.6 million (2018: £326.8 million). The statutory operating profit was £10.0 million (2018: £8.6 million). As in 2018, all regions were profitable with London remaining the core of the business delivering a reported profit of £8.2 million (2018: £7.2 million) and an operating margin of 4.1% (2018: 3.7%).
Finance costs increased to £1.0 million (2018: £0.8 million) as a result of an increase in the Group's defined benefit pension scheme interest charge of £0.1 million to £0.7 million (2018: £0.6 million) and an interest charge of £0.1 million following the adoption of IFRS 16.
The tax charge for the year is £1.2 million (2018: £1.6 million), which equated to an effective tax rate of 13%. This is lower than the UK statutory rate of 19 % due to utilising brought forward Eton tax losses, Eton RDEC claim and prior year tax adjustments. TClarke maintains an open and transparent working relationship with HMRC.