His comment came as the company posted a 28 per cent increase in profits before tax and exceptional items of pounds 41.2m in the year to 31 December. The 1997 result exceeded most brokers' forecasts which centered on pounds 40m.
Mr Dyer said: "The French economy is beginning to wake up a bit. Consumer demand is a little stronger there. French market demand for the group's hosiery remained weak in 1997, particularly during the peak autumn selling season, he said.
"We are also seeing a steadying of the trading environment in Asia. The environment seems to have calmed. Our order books did not suffer too badly and we are beginning to see better margins," said Mr Dyer.
The Asia-Pacific region makes up just 5 per cent of group sales, which increased by pounds 6m to pounds 932.3m at constant exchange rates in 1997. About pounds 310m of the group's turnover came from sales to Marks & Spencer.
The company's lace and stretch fabrics division recovered strongly in 1997 to post pre-exceptional profits of pounds 19.2m, up from pounds 12.9m, helped by buoyant demand in the United States and Europe.
The group's lingerie and hosiery division saw a slight fall in pre-exceptional profit to pounds 11.4m in 1997. Its casualwear and underwear division lifted pre-exceptional profit to pounds 14.0m in 1997 from pounds 11.6m in 1996. The company set a return on average capital employed target of 17 per cent to be achieved in the year ending December 1999.
- ReuterReuse content