Alexandra back in the black

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The Independent Online
ALEXANDRA Workwear, the clothing company, bounced back into the black in the six months to 15 August, recording pre-tax profits of pounds 700,000 after a pounds 200,000 loss last year.

But profits after interest charges and before exceptional items halved from pounds 1.3m to pounds 672,000. Last year, Alexandra was hit by pounds 1.5m redundancy costs in the first half.

Gerald Dennis, chairman, said that management had been concentrating on strengthening the balance sheet and had reduced gearing from 73 to 62 per cent.

'We are also concerned with improving profitability and we have introduced a number of price rises - which are sticking - to restore our margins, whereas until now we have absorbed extra costs,' he said.

John Prior, chief executive, said that the company's reorganisation and capital expenditure programme was largely over and that profitability would improve as borrowings and interest charges fell.

He added that a revival in sales would feed through directly to profits because the capital expenditure programme had put the capacity in place to supply more demand without increasing the fixed cost base.

He said he believed that this readiness to supply quickly would allow Alexandra to steal a march on competitors when demand returned. But turnover in the first half was down pounds 500,000 to pounds 30.9m.

City analysts predicted full-year profits of about pounds 1.5m. One said the stock was fairly rated, but there probably was some expectation of recovery in the price. 'Although there is satisfaction that gearing is coming down, the profits side is improving very slowly.'

The interim dividend was maintained at 1.8p and Alexandra shares rose 3p to 74p.