Takeovers are jewels in Asprey's pounds 25m profit

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The Independent Online
TAKEOVERS and a broader range of customers helped Asprey, the jewellery group which includes Mappin & Webb and Watches of Switzerland, to increase profits before tax by 17.7 per cent, to pounds 25.4m, in the year to March. But Naim Attallah, chief executive warned that 'current trading remains difficult'.

The sluggish trading has prompted it to cut head office staff, losing 15 of the 60 employees. Mr Attallah said that could boost profits by pounds 300,000 a year.

He attributed the increase in profits, scored on a 29.6 per cent rise in turnover to pounds 187.6m, to the group's efforts to broaden its customer base. That has included the acquisition of Watches of Switzerland and Mappin & Webb as well as pursuing international customers.

In the year to March, acquisitions such as Les Amdassadeurs, a watch and jewellery maker, and Ronald A Lee, the antique seller, added pounds 10m to sales while full-year trading at the other additions contributed pounds 8.6m.

Sales at the Asprey shop in Bond Street rose 17 per cent to pounds 85m and it still accounts for about three-quarters of the group's profits.

Garrard boosted sales by 35 per cent to pounds 30m as it exhibited in Hong Kong, Vienna and New York in a search for new customers. Mappin & Webb moved into profits, helped by a good Christmas.

Earnings per share were 21.12p, up 46 per cent due to a reversal of the over-provision of tax in the previous year. The final dividend is 4.8p, for a total of 6.05p, up 18.6 per cent.