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Shares plummet at Brown & Tawse

BROWN & TAWSE, the steel and pipes distributor, saw 30 per cent of its stock market value wiped away yesterday when it announced worse-than-expected losses for the year to 28 March.

The shares fell 19p to 44p, on news that the deficit before tax was pounds 36.5m, against the pounds 20m predicted when a restructuring was announced in March.

Richard Wilson, the chief executive recruited from GKN to turn the group around, said the real losses were only marginally more than expected at the time of the rescue. 'The figures have been distorted by the FRS3 requirement to take a charge of pounds 14.8m for goodwill write-offs.'

The company also announced the resignation of its finance director, Philip Ashforth, and the appointment in his place of Ian Harding, who has come from Williams Holdings, the industrial conglomerate.

Don McFarlane, chairman, said that the audit turned up problems with computer costs, stock obsolescence and poor purchase ledger controls in the main subsidiary, Brown & Tawse Ltd, which added pounds 1.9m to the original expected provisions of pounds 19.8m.

Mr Wilson said the new management was on - and in some areas ahead of - schedule to realise the changes made in the rescue plan agreed in March.

He said he was pleased to have sold Jay Fasteners to Lilleshall for pounds 2.9m. 'That's a good result for shareholders, considering Jay made only pounds 73,000 and had net assets of pounds 1.6m.'