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Field gains despite high costs

Field Group, which leads the UK market in supplying folding cartons for food and whisky, shrugged aside soaring raw materials costs to raise profits by an eighth last year, writes Magnus Grimond.

Frank Knight, chairman, said he believed prices were now close to the top after a 35-37 per cent increases for board and other materials over the past year. "I think the next couple of months will see the turn," he said yesterday.

Pre-tax profits rose from pounds 8.95m to pounds 15.4m in the 52 weeks to 2 April, although the increase reduces to 12.5 per cent on a pro forma basis after taking account of the proceeds of the stock market flotation two years ago. Earnings per share rose to 20.2p from a pro forma 17.9p, out of which a final dividend of 5.2p increases last year's total by 9 per cent to 7.7p.

Field has raised its UK sales by 153 per cent since 1988, against a growth of around 120 per cent in the underlying market. It announced the acquisition of Pharma Graphic, a Belgian specialist leaflet manufacturer, for up to pounds 5.2m.