Small Talk: Dwek's new look for Worthington

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The Independent Online

Investors have been hoping he can work his magic on Worthington, another textiles firm which he has chaired since 1999, but it has been more of a struggle.

And now Mr Dwek is planning to take over the company's £2.2m debts personally as he searches for ways to cut the group's bills.

He has performed some radical surgery, shutting factories and slimming the business, which at one time made buttons and bungee cords as well as clothes. Shareholders will be told in due course that the last remaining trading business, a maker of bras and knickers, has just been transferred to Chinese ownership. That has allowed Worthington to take £500,000 cash out of the business, although it still might have to be shut down if it cannot turn a profit within a year.

Mr Dwek's focus now is on getting a decent price for the unwanted factories, which include a £3.1m site in Macclesfield and a £1.1m site in Bradford. Only then can he turn his attention to acquisitions and a new lease of life for the company, perhaps in a new industry. Metallurgy, anyone?

AIM formula still wins

Worthington scrapped a move from the main list across to AIM this month. The cost of sorting out the documentation and paying for a nominated adviser, which it estimated at £25,000, did not make it a sensible move. The company publicly blamed AIM's version of the new European prospectus directive introduced at the start of July, although the Stock Exchange says the workload for transfers from the main list has not changed.

There was consternation among AIM's cheerleaders last year about a slowdown in the number of companies moving across from the full list: 21, compared with 49 in 2003 and 41 in 2002. Things have picked back up though, and 22 have already been lured across by the improved liquidity, lighter regulation and lower costs.

High Watermark

Expect a positive update from Watermark, a little provider of in-flight catering, passenger toothbrushes and blankets, and cabin cleaning services to airlines.

The strong performance of the company's subsidiary, Air Fayre, will add to the discomfit of the strike-hit Gate Gourmet, caterer to British Airways. Watermark is expected to say it has won new business at the expense of its stricken rival.

No takers for DCG

And finally, a quick update on Digital Cybermasters (DCG), an Ofex company selling webcam software for cheap CCTV systems round the home. After disappointing trading, it is trying to reinvent itself through the acquisition of Voltek, which makes its webcams, but a £2m offer for subscription has failed to raise enough money. Investors were right to take a sceptical approach. DCG's prospectus says "on average, 10 per cent of UK homes are burgled per annum", when the figure, according to the British Crime Survey, is barely 3 per cent, including attempted burglaries. DCG says "a further initiative" will be revealed this week.

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