Ranks Hovis job losses reach 2,000 since takeover: Tomkins lifts its full-year profits by 29% to pounds 171m

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The Independent Online
JOB losses at Ranks Hovis McDougall now total 2,000 since the baking and milling group was taken over last December by Tomkins, the international manufacturing conglomerate, in an agreed pounds 935m deal, writes Terence Wilkinson.

Tomkins said in May that it had already shed 1,500 jobs, mostly in RHM's baking division, where three bakeries had been shut. Since then a further bakery has been closed and moves to run down RHM's former head office in Windsor have added to the redundancies.

News of the extra job losses accompanied full-year figures from Tomkins showing a 29 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to pounds 171m, including a five-month contribution of pounds 30.1m to operating profits from RHM.

Fully diluted earnings per share, taking account of the pounds 653m issue of new shares to help pay for the RHM purchase, rose by 4 per cent. Dividends have risen by 21.4 per cent to 6.35p with a final of 4.545p.

Greg Hutchings, chief executive, said that although profits at RHM were running slightly below previous levels because of the fierce competition, the integration of RHM was ahead of Tomkins' internal targets.

Despite closing four bakeries RHM had not lost market share to its bigger rival, Associated British Foods, which has 36 per cent of the standard wrapped loaf market compared with RHM's 34 per cent.

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