No upturn for Wardle

BRIAN Taylor, chief executive of the plastics manufacturer Wardle Storeys, said he saw no evidence of economic recovery in Britain.

Mr Taylor's comments came as Wardle published reduced pre-tax profits of pounds 8m compared with pounds 9.2m for the year to 31 August. 'Things in Britain did not get any better nor any worse,' he said. 'In Europe, however, things look very sick.'

Wardle moulds plastic for products such as baths, the interior trim of cars, and parts for prams. It also makes life-rafts, life-jackets and parachutes.

This year operating profits were flat despite successful efforts to reduce costs and stimulate sales by introducing products. But a drop in the amount of interest received meant taxable profits fell.

Wardle has cash balances of pounds 32m, generated out of profitability. As a result of falling interest rates, interest earned fell to pounds 2.2m against pounds 3.3m.

The company has been actively looking to spend its cash by making acquisitions. It has been put off purchases, however, because due diligence programmes have highlighted problems within targets.

Earnings per share fell to 21.7p from 27.3p. The total dividend for the year rose 8 per cent to 17.25p from 16p. The shares fell 17p to close at 431p.