Clayform continues to bring down debt

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CLAYFORM, the property company which also owns the Stead & Simpson shoe shop chain, is continuing to make progress on debt reduction through property sales, writes Heather Connon.

The group said yesterday that debt had fallen to pounds 49m at the halfway stage in June compared with pounds 58m at the beginning of the year. Since then it has fallen further to pounds 43m.

Robert Ware, managing director, said sales had been slow over the summer and uncertainty ahead of last week's sterling crisis had also dampened activity.

The interest rate cut had brought some improvement, but it was too early to say whether this would be translated into sales.

The pre-tax loss was pounds 10.9m, up from pounds 6.6m last time, largely because of an increase in exceptional provisions on property from pounds 800,000 to pounds 3.2m.

Mr Ware said this related to projects which the board felt it prudent to provide against, but he hoped there would be no further provisions at the year-end.

There was also a pounds 1.4m extraordinary loss on the disposal of investment properties.

The shoe shops lost pounds 1.1m compared with a pounds 2.3m profit last time. The summer was 'terrible', Mr Ware said but the latest four weeks had been much improved.

The shares were unchanged at 14p.