Black cab firm flagging with first-half loss

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The Independent Online

Manganese Bronze, the group that makes London's black taxis, slumped to a first half loss blaming flagging confidence from cabbies in the current economic climate.

The group yesterday posted a pre-tax loss of £600,000 in the first half of the year, slipping from a £1.5m profit in the first six months of 2009.

John Russell, the group's chief executive, said: "UK sales performance continues to be challenging as driver's confidence to commit to the purchase of a new taxi remains weak, due to uncertainty about the general state of the economy." Taxi sales fell 11 per cent in the UK from 1,169 in the first half of last year to 1,035 in 2009. The group warned sales were likely to be even lower in the second half.

There was some good news as Manganese Bronze revealed it had halved its net debt from £7.2m last year to £3.6m. The group added it had enjoyed "significant success" with a joint venture in Shanghai as production had begun, and posted a lift in international sales.

Earlier this month, the group announced it was to scrap its dealer network in a bid to boost profits.