Halstead buoyed by newvinyl floors

LUCY ROBERTS

A new generation of vinyl floor products and increased overseas sales helped motorcycle to commercial flooring company James Halstead continue its unbroken profit record.

The group overcame further pressure from raw material price increases to post a 4.3 per cent rise in pre-tax profit to pounds 10.32m for the year to end-October. Turnover rose from pounds 69m to pounds 72m. Vincent Clare, chairman, said a squeeze on margins in a competitive commercial flooring market had been offset by the upswing in export volume for its PVC flooring. Export business grew by 19 per cent and accounts for nearly half of sales, with flooring accounting for 17 per cent.

Polyfloor Australia, a core business, increased sales by 30 per cent on the back of the new vinyl product ranges, an improved distribution network and sales outlets in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.

The group's outdoor clothing division, Driza-Bone, put on sales in the US, UK, Germany and France and remained profitable despite a margin squeeze caused by cotton shortages. The core of the company's camping business also remained resilient, particularly in Holland, Belgium and France. But there was a mediocre performance in the UK, where competition from cheap package holidays hit sales. Earnings per share rose from 21.68p to 22.75p and the final dividend of 5.5 raised the total for the year to 8.5p.

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