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Fired Earth still loss making

Aga Rangemaster has swung back into the black as many cast-iron stove owners upgraded their models or burner systems.

Demand for Aga and Rangemaster cookers bounced back in the first half of this year, offsetting revenue declines at the group's all-in-one cooker-boiler brands, Rayburn and Stanley, and the loss-making tile brand Fired Earth.

Overall revenues advanced nearly 5% to £123.4m. Aga made a profit before tax of £16.4m in the six months to 30 June, compared with a loss of £2.4m a year ago. The company restored its dividend at 0.7p a share.

It said the current level of sales leads suggest that the improving trends should continue into the second half, even though the level of housing mortgage approvals – a key indicator for Aga – is now flat year on year.

"2010 is proving encouraging, with Rangemaster driving improved profit performance, even though consumers remain cautious," said chief executive William McGrath. "Rangemaster's export growth, product innovation and the breadth of its range of appliances are providing a stimulus and we look to it, alongside Aga, ... to drive longer-term earnings momentum."

The Rangemaster range in particular has been popular, with revenues up about 10%. A quarter of cooker sales were outside the UK, and France has replaced Ireland as the company's main export market. Sales of splashbacks, hoods, fridges and sinks did well.

The stove-maker, which had been hit hard by the recession, insists that it responded "swiftly and firmly" to the slump by streamlining its management structures in the UK and North America. Aga says it aims to have a single set of processes across the group.

The company is also looking at ways to make the cooker-boiler lines "more widely accessible and better understood in the plumbing and heating market".

Source :

27 August 2010
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