Speedo gives Pentland a competitive edge

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The Independent Online
SPEEDO swimwear continues to set records in and out of the pool for Pentland, which has spent a fortune on acquiring a wardrobe of leading sports brands in recent years, writes John Shepherd.

Frank Farrant, finance director, said Speedo had gone 'from strength to strength' and was largely behind doubled operating profits of pounds 10.2m from continuing businesses in the half- year to June. The winners of all the swimming medals at the Commonwealth Games wore Speedo costumes, Mr Farrant added.

Group taxable profits were pounds 16.7m, aided by contributions from acquisitions. That compared with pounds 6.7m last time, a result that was struck after pounds 6.7m of provisions on withdrawal from some operations.

Analysts have upgraded full- year pre-tax forecasts by around pounds 4m to pounds 36m, against the pounds 21.6m made in 1993. The shares rose 4p to 108p.

Pentland still has pounds 289m in the bank, largely a legacy from cashing in on its money-spinning investment made in the early 1980s in Reebok, the US sport shoes company.

'We need the cash to fund development and to make acquisitions,' Mr Farrant said. He ruled out using some of the cash to repeat last year's special distribution to shareholders, who are set to receive a 7 per cent higher interim dividend of 1.25p.

The most recent addition to the brand wardrobe was the pounds 12m purchase in June of Karl Reusch, the German maker of goalkeeping and skiing gloves.

(Photograph omitted)