Competition puts crack in Denby's china success

Denby, one of the success stories of the UK china industry in recent years, has fallen victim to increased competition in casual tableware and the strong pound, writes Sameena Ahmad. The company warned yesterday that profit growth this year would be slower than expected, sending its shares down 10 per cent to 222.5p. Some analysts said the price fall left the group open to a takeover bid.

The warning contrasted with the accompanying half-year results from Denby, with profits for the period to March rising 16 per cent to pounds 3.5m and sales up by 15 per cent to pounds 19.3m. However, Carl Short, an analyst at SGST, downgraded full year figures by pounds 300,000 to pounds 6.6m. Stephen Riley, chief executive (above), said that competing companies like Wedgwood and Churchill China had been increasing their presence in the growing casual tableware market and away from the mature fine china sector. "The competition has seen what we've been doing and are emulating it," he said. With 40 per cent of Denby's tableware sold outside the UK, the strength of the pound was also eroding revenue. Mr Riley said the group would respond to growing competition by broadening its brand beyond pottery and glass to table accessories like cutlery, tablemats and candles.

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