Losses slashed at Browne & Tawse

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The Independent Online
BROWNE & Tawse, the steel and pipes distributor, slashed pre-tax losses in the year to 3 April to pounds 2.6m from pounds 36m, but is still finding the going tough.

Despite weak recovery in the construction sector, Ian Harding, finance director, said inquiries for orders were picking up. He added that lead times were long, as the pipework and valves supplied by Browne & Tawse were needed only when a project was well under way.

The company had secured a 'fair bit of work' for the Jubilee Line underground extension in London, he said.

Turnover last year fell 21 per cent to pounds 94m, reflecting difficult trading conditions and the discontinuing of peripheral activities. No dividend is being paid.

The company said substantial progress had been made in implementing the recovery plan launched in March 1993. During the year the cost base was reduced, new information systems installed, a new purchasing function established and service standards improved.

Mr Harding said there was still some way to go to reduce overheads and operating costs. The company hopes to dispose of Stauff, its distributor of hydraulic equipment, for close to its pounds 3m asset value within the next six months. Stauff broke even last year after substantial losses in 1992/93.

There are also several vacant properties to sell, following the closure of a number of branches. Head office is moving from Bromley-by-Bow in London to Basingstoke, Hampshire.

Gearing at the year-end was 65 per cent against 82 per cent previously. Banking facilities have been renewed until June 1995.

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