Pittards puts final dividend in doubt

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The Independent Online
PITTARDS cast doubt over paying a final dividend yesterday as it announced the closure of its leather clothing business at a cost of pounds 6.5m and the loss of about 280 jobs.

The company, which supplies treated leather to garment makers worldwide, has arranged for outstanding contracts to be taken over by Strong & Fisher, the only similar quoted company on the London stock market.

Pittard passed the dividend at halfway after announcing a pre-tax loss of pounds 310,000 against a pounds 1.27m profit. John Pittard, managing director, said: 'Given the impact which this closure will make, it is unlikely that when the decision is made concerning the final ordinary dividend for the current year a return to a normal level of distribution can be accomplished.'

In September Mr Pittard said the company was carrying out a fundamental review of the business, and warned that it could not allow businesses to continue making losses for the rest of the year.

The clothing factory at Abingdon, near Oxford, will stop production with closure costs and write- downs totalling about pounds 6.5m. It has been lossmaking since 1990, and in the first half of 1993 recorded an operating deficit of pounds 900,000.

Together with property write- downs and a write-off of advance corporation tax, closure will mean a reduction of about pounds 8.5m in group assets. Net assets for the year ending 1992 were pounds 30.6m.

Mr Pittard said the rest of the company's clothing and chamois divisions were expected to be profitable in the second half. Group borrowings were about pounds 19m for the half year against pounds 17.4m. Mr Pittard said about pounds 3.5m of property, including the Abingdon factory, was for sale. The shares fell 2p to 53p.