Tuffnells owner Connect Group has put property valued at up to £35m on the market as it revealed that it was targeting second half return to profitability for its irregular freight business.

Connect Group, which also owns Smith News, saw annual profit nosedive by 200% last year after a failed restructuring of the business by the previous management team.

In the 19 weeks to 12 January 2019, it said it had made good progress with its turnaround plan, which has seen it separate its core businesses and support them with dedicated resource.

In line with its expectations, the work has seen total group turnover from continuing operations fall 4% year to date to £516.7m (2018: £538.1m).

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Of its two divisions, both Smiths News/DMD and Tuffnells saw declines but the irregular freight business saw the larger drop, with turnover down by 8.8% to £58.2m (2018: £63.9m).

However, Connect added that good progress had been made in stabilising Tuffnells’ performance and the group is targeting a return to profitability for it in the second half of its trading year.

Connect has also placed 16 freehold and long-lease hold Tuffnells properties on the market via agent Knight Frank. It hopes to raise £35m before tax via sale and leaseback agreements, which it will use to reduce debt. Group net debt stood at £83.4m as of 31 August 2018.