Casket results move up a gear

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CASKET, the bicycles company that makes replicas of Chris Boardman's Olympic gold-winning machine, has pushed profits ahead by a quarter to pounds 3.6m.

The company benefited from strong pre-Christmas sales and is also reaping rewards from a capital expenditure programme and a recent acquisition in Germany.

Casket used to import fully assembled cycles made in cheap labour regions of the Far East, but now imports components that it can make up into different models.

The company paid pounds 1.2m for Heidemann in Germany. Joe Smith, chief executive, said Heidemann had been losing money but for the three months as a Casket subsidiary contributed pounds 395,000 to profits.

Profits from Casket's sideline clothes importing business more than halved from pounds 828,000 to pounds 406,000. Mr Smith said he would be prepared to sell the operation but was not hopeful that it would fetch a satisfactory price.

Earnings per share rose to 3.2p from 2.5p and the dividend is 1.1p against 0.8p. Panmure Gordon, the broker, estimates that Casket will make taxable profits of pounds 6m this year and pounds 7m next.

The shares fell 2.5p to 53p.