Greenbank rises to pounds 5.7m earnings

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The Independent Online
WALKER GREENBANK, the wall-coverings group, increased profits 4.1 per cent to pounds 5.7m before tax in the year to 31 January.

The company took a pounds 3.5m gain from a lawsuit relating to its 1987 acquisition of Alkar, a shop-fitter, below the line as an extraordinary item.

Martin Hynes, finance director, said that including the gain as part of operating profits above the line - under the new FRS3 accounting standard - would have seriously distorted the accounts.

The settlement in the suit against Ernst & Young, Walker's former auditors, and the vendors of Alkar, was agreed out of court in October.

The agreement ended a chequered period in the company's history that has seen it change from a mini-conglomerate to a wall-coverings business under a new management team.

Andy Yeo, analyst at Hoare Govett, said that the new team had cleared out the group's peripheral businesses and focused on the core business. 'They've got a 70-80 per cent share of the commercial wall-coverings market in the UK, so they are in a strong position to benefit from an upturn in the economy.'

Charles Wightman, chief executive, said he believed there was a lot of pent-up demand. 'We have concentrated on the refurbishment end of the market rather than on new buildings. Buildings in use will need refurbishment as we come out of recession.'

Group turnover fell marginally to pounds 56.2m (pounds 56.8m), but sales in the continuing core business were 8.3 per cent higher at pounds 51.9m. Earnings per share rose 3.6 per cent to 4.29p and the dividend is maintained at 3.1p.

Walker also announced yesterday that it was to acquire John Hartley, an upholstery manufacturer, for pounds 1.6m.

The shares closed unchanged at 75p.

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