Strength in luxury lifts Time Products

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THE MOTTO of the seriously wealthy remains 'if you've got it, flaunt it', according to Time Products, whose pounds 1m watches and gem- encrusted handbags are still selling to the rich and famous.

Time Products' expansion into the most luxurious of luxury goods continued to pay off yesterday when the company posted taxable profits up from pounds 3.5m to pounds 5.3m at mid-way. Shares rose 9p to 230p.

Three years ago 80 per cent of Time Products' profits came from mass-market operations, including its Sekonda watch brand, and 20 per cent from luxury items. But Marcus Margulies, the chairman and owner of 19 per cent of the company, has reversed those figures. 'There are signs of a modest recovery for our volume products, while our luxury business continues to perform strongly in the UK and overseas,' Mr Margulies said.

Turnover rose pounds 9m to pounds 29m, largely as a result of acquisitions. In March Time Products paid pounds 11m for Judith Leiber, the US maker of handbags popular with Barbara Bush and Elizabeth Taylor. And in April it bought the watch distributor Audemars Piguet, which specialises in highly technical pieces.

Further acquisitions of luxury goods makers are likely, but Mr Margulies said nothing was imminent. The company had net cash of pounds 11m, down from pounds 31m before the acquisitions.

There was an exceptional profit of pounds 1.5m from the sale of property in Hong Kong. Pre-tax profits on continuing operations was pounds 2.9m, against pounds 2.2m. The interim dividend is 3p (2.75p) on earnings up 46 per cent to 6.67p.