The upturn in the London and South-East housing market is pushing through to sales of upmarket stoves and cookers, Aga Rangemaster said today.
"The tide is really turning," said chief executive William McGrath. "The mood among our customers is better, and there is a buzz about our new products. There has been a real shift in sentiment.
"It has been a long hard slog for five years but while sales were down 4 per cent in the first quarter, they were up 5 per cent in the second and orders at the end of June were 8 per cent up a year earlier."
Notably successful were the new electric models Total Control and Dual Control, which Aga says can be run for about £5 a week, do not need servicing regularly and offer annual fuel savings of some £1000 a year over older oil-fired stoves. Launched two years ago, these cookers now account for 30 per cent of Aga sales.
Meanwhile, the Fired Earth Tiles business has returned to profit for the first time in seven years. It has been chosen by Transport for London to launch a range of tiles and posters to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Underground.
McGrath said: "Recent mortgage approval numbers suggest a real cyclical upturn, which should enable us to show what progress we have made in operational gearing in the business."
Aga's revenues were flat in the first half at £119 million, as were operating profits at £1.5 million. Analysts are forecasting a rise in full-year profits from £6.3 million to £7.1 million. The shares jumped 5.5p to 109.25p.