Kenwood remains on Pifco back burner

The possibility of a Pifco takeover of Kenwood, the rival electrical appliances maker, appeared no nearer yesterday when it said it had still received no financial information from the target despite several requests.

Kenwood remains in a bid situation according to Takeover Panel rules. But the Pifco board repeated earlier statements that "we would need to receive certain financial information before we could consider making an offer".

"We want to keep all our options open," said Michael Webber, chairman.

While Kenwood struggles in a competitive market, Pifco yesterday reported a 16 per cent increase in half-year pre-tax profits to pounds 1.82m. Acquisitions boosted the figure as underlying profits were dented by start-up costs relating to the development of the new Russell Hobbs Millennium kettle which uses a special flat element to bring water to the boil in half the time.

The kettle was launched in October and Pifco says it has been well received by consumers and the trade. A second new product which uses the Optec element has been launched and two more models are under development.

Mountain Breeze, the air treatment and aromatherapy company acquired in September, recorded losses of pounds 85,000 in the period. In order to restore the business to profitability Pifco plans to close the UK production facilities in April and move the manufacturing to two Pifco plants, one in Britain, the other in China.

Pifco said Mountain Breeze would cause a short-term hit to profit but stressed its confidence that it would prove a good investment.

Pifco's group sales in the six months to 31 October were flat at pounds 21.7m. The dividend was increased by 9 per cent to 2.5p.

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