Clark cuts dividend as profits plunge to pounds 1.7m: Restructuring costs hit results

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The Independent Online
EXCEPTIONAL restructuring costs of pounds 12.5m demolished profits at C&J Clark, the private shoe company that is in bid talks with Berisford.

Clark made pounds 1.7m before tax in the year to 31 January against pounds 20.4m the previous year. The total dividend is cut back to 3.75p (7.5p).

But Alan Mackay, the finance director, said trading had improved, with Clark's retail outlets achieving sales growth of 10 per cent in March.

The company also announced that its annual meeting, scheduled for 31 April, has been put back a week to 7 May, to allow an extraordinary meeting on the same day to consider an offer from Berisford, if the board agrees terms.

Mr Mackay said the company would write to shareholders around the middle of this month with details.

In the company's annual report, he noted that shares in Clark had changed hands at 115p last May and at 90p in October.

Berisford is understood to have offered just over pounds 2 a share for Clark, valuing the company at about pounds 160m.

Walter Dickson, the chairman, said he had emphasised to potential bidders that future prospects rather than last year's results had to be the basis for an offer.

Berisford, the former sugar company that is now essentially a shell, was chosen by the board from a shortlist of three potential buyers of Clark. It was decided to seek offers for the company after a row between factions of the Clark family, which owns 70 per cent of the shares.

However, there is expected to be considerable opposition to the sale of the business.