Bonus issue at Airsprung

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AIRSPRUNG Furniture's beds and upholstered furniture have continued to prove recession-resistant, with pre-tax profits up 22 per cent in the year to 31 March to a record pounds 6m. The dividend was raised 20 per cent to 9p and the company is proposing a one-for-one bonus issue of shares, writes Topaz Amoore.

A note of caution, however, was introduced by Michael Coppel, the former chief executive appointed as chairman in May, who said the current year seemed 'fraught with uncertainties'.

'I think things are getting worse instead of better. I'm just worried about the general economy.' He said Airsprung was confident of further growth as long as it had a reasonable climate in which to operate.

But the shares, which responded well to the management changes introduced last month, moved ahead again to close at 518p, up from 507p. They have moved up steadily since 1990, when they stood at just 80p.

Sales and profits in the bed division were ahead of last year and the performance of the pine furniture division improved.

Turnover increased in the upholstery division, but it also fell victim to reduced margins because of severe competition.

Airsprung ended the year with net cash of pounds 7m, on which it earned pounds 202,000 interest. It spent pounds 1.9m on capital expenditure, a figure it expects to match in the current year.