English China Clays storms into black

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Shares in English China Clays, the chemicals and minerals group that made a huge loss last year after being forced to implement a radical restructuring program, jumped 30.5p to 263.5p after it revealed it had stormed back into the black in the first six months of 1997.

English China Clays (ECC) unveiled a four-fold rise in first-half profits to pounds 48.6m thanks to a major shake-up of its management and operations over the past 12 months. Dennis Rediker, chief executive of ECC, said: "We had to launch a review into every part of the business. Last year we had to announce grim news. But we have proven we can deliver on our promises."

ECC's problems emerged soon after the chief executive, Andrew Teare, left the group 18 months ago to join Rank, the entertainment giant.

Since then ECC has been forced to announce 400 redundancies as part of a cost-cutting programme designed to save more than pounds 50m a year. It also had to slash the value of its mineral and chemical operations.

Mr Rediker refused to comment on Mr Teare's performance as chief executive. However he said: "The challenges we faced in the business were considerable."

ECC has ruled out further large-scale redundancies. However Mr Rediker admitted further restructuring of the business would have to take place.