Borthwicks tastes flavour of US advance

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A STRONG contribution from North America drove an 11 per cent profits growth at Borthwicks, the flavourings group.

Borthwicks used to be known as a meat slaughterer but has reorganised itself into a flavourings business supplying ice-cream and soft drink makers. Pre-tax profits fell 17 per cent to pounds 936,000 for the six months to 25 September, but the comparable figure was inflated by an exceptional item.

Operating profits from continuing businesses rose 11 per cent to pounds 1.3m. Turnover fell from pounds 23.2m to pounds 14.8m because Borthwicks lost pounds 10m of sales with the disposal of its last butchering operations. Profits on the disposal brought debt down and reduced interest payments to pounds 142,000 from pounds 324,000.

Borthwicks bought Globe Extracts in the US in 1989. Globe, whose products are now rebranded under the Borthwicks name, was dependent on ice-cream makers. Soft drink expertise was injected from the British end and Globe's sales mix was diversified.

John Thomson, the chairman, said: 'The period under review saw the economy recovering hesitantly in the UK but more briskly in the US, where the group enjoyed excellent trading.'

Earnings per share, ignoring the one-off profit on the sale of businesses in 1992, rose from 1.2p to 1.6p. The interim dividend was held at 0.5p but the company said it wanted to shift the balance of payment to the year-end, indicating that the final dividend would be raised. The shares were unchanged at 50p.