Spring Ram turns losses into a profit

SPRING RAM, the former black sheep of the stock market, yesterday came leaping back to health with its profits and dividend payment for three years.

A new chief executive has been appointed from inside the company and Spring Ram said New Year trading looked good, with the first eight weeks of 1998 showing like-for-like sales up 17 per cent .

The chairman, Roger Regan, who was brought in three years ago as company doctor to resuscitate Spring Ram, said: "1997 has seen the group moving on to increasingly solid foundations."

Pre-tax profits of pounds 0.5m in the 12 months to 3 January compared with a loss of pounds 36.8m last time. A dividend of 0.1p has been paid, the first payout since 1994.

The new chief executive is Steve Brown, former head of Spring Ram's core kitchen division. His promotion has been made on the back of a significant financial clean-up in kitchens.

This division moved from an operating loss of pounds 1.9m in the first half of 1997 to an operating profit of pounds 0.9m on a similar level of turnover.

Costs have been severely pruned with the closure of one of its two factories in Scunthorpe. The bathrooms and acrylics side of the group's business also performed strongly.

Mr Regan said the turnaround has taken longer than he expected. He says he will be around for at least this year and maybe next: "We have a strong recovery plan in progress, I want to delivery of it."

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