Fitch heads for full-year profit

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Fitch, the once high-flying design firm, continued its slow path to recovery with the announcement yesterday of six-month profits of pounds 816,000, and is now on track for a profitable trading year for only the second time since 1990.

Although small, the pre-tax figure for the half-year to June, on turnover up to pounds 7m from pounds 6.2m last time, was characterised by Martin Beck, the company's chairman and chief executive, as proof the company was returning to stability.

"I can't remember a time when all the trends looked as good as they do now," Mr Beck said.

The shares rose 2p to 24p, a long way from the 490p reached in 1985. Mr Beck said the rest of the year would reflect further development of the client base and a conscious move to reduce the company's dependence on retail clients.

"We have learned that everything has cycles," Mr Beck said. The aim is to balance the company's traditional strengths in providing design services for shops with extensive corporate research and strategy work for a range of manufacturing and service companies.

As a consequence, the company has set a limit of 10 per cent of revenues from any single client and 25 per cent from any one business sector.

Mr Beck said that recent moves into the multimedia area were particularly encouraging. For example, Fitch is designing interfaces for Blockbuster, the US video distributor, which is branching out into online video services. It is also developing the look for new shops in the US.

These are only the second set of interims since the departure of the founder, Rodney Fitch, who was a dominant figure in the development of the UK design industry in the 1980s.

Mr Beck said the company would no longer chase revenues as a central strategy, but was looking for stable, secure growth. "Repeat business and pitching for the right work" were the way forward, he said.