Buoyant Unipart reports 26% rise in interim profit

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UNIPART, the vehicle parts group, is weathering the recession with a 26 per cent rise in interim pre-tax profits to pounds 9.1m from pounds 7.2m a year earlier, writes Mary Fagan. The company is expected to create 100 jobs in expanding its manufacturing base.

Unipart, formerly the accessories division of Rover, said that sales in the six months to 30 June rose to pounds 334.6m from pounds 292.2m a year earlier.

The company is to extend its manufacturing through a joint venture that will supply components to Toyota and Honda. It will be 80 per cent owned by Unipart and based in the West Midlands. Unipart also hopes to take advantage of growth in environmentally driven products such as catalytic converters.

John Neill, chief executive, said the presence of Japanese vehicle manufacturers made Britain one of the most attractive places in Europe for component makers.

A scheme encouraging workers to develop ideas for improving efficiency had saved Unipart more than pounds 2m since it was launched a year ago, the company said.

Unipart was privatised through an employee buyout in 1987 and now has 4,200 on its payroll.