Optimistic Brooks resumes dividends

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BROOKS Service Group, the dry cleaner and textile rentals business, is returning to the dividend list with an interim payout of 0.5p a share for the half-year to 26 June, writes Neil Thapar.

The move reflects improved trading conditions. Brooks said the outlook for the rest of the year was 'reasonably positive' and it looked forward to 'better things to come'.

The dividend is being paid from reserves as the company made a first-half taxable loss of pounds 57,000 compared with pounds 104,000 on sales down from pounds 11.7m to pounds 11.5m.

The loss per share eased from 0.58p to 0.31p. Thanks to lower interest rates and improved working capital, the company reduced interest charges from pounds 269,000 to pounds 178,000, but operating profits slipped from pounds 55,000 to pounds 46,000.

There was an exceptional gain of pounds 75,000 against pounds 110,000 on the sale of goodwill of Brook Bourne Services, an associate, set up in March.

During the first half Brooks opened 10 new retail branches, which helped to boost use of existing production capacity.

A new workwear processing plant being built at the associate business will include a unit servicing the food and pharmaceuticals industry.