The Investment Column: Lowe kits up for expansion

When David Sebire became chairman of Robert Lowe, the Cheshire- based sportswear and packaging group, in 1992 he inherited a rag-bag of businesses. The company was in the unfortunate position of supplying baby clothes to Marks & Spencer, jeans to Wrangler and making Pierre Cardin ties under licence.

All these went in a big clear-out which included Babygro, Lowe's loss- making and biggest problem child. A financial restructuring followed and Lowe was left with two divisions - replica football kit manufacturing and packaging board products - that still sit uneasily with each other. It is hardly the ideal starting point but Mr Sebire is making a decent fist of it.

In the six months to April pre-tax profits rose 70 per cent to pounds 907,000 on almost doubled sales of pounds 13.7m. The turnover figure included a maiden pounds 2.7m contribution from Majoca, a corrugated packaging business, bought for an initial pounds 2.2m in December.

Lowe is the market leader in replica sports kits. But unlike Umbro, a rival sports shirt manufacturer, it is not marketed as a brand name and for obvious reasons. "Aim Lowe" lacks a certain ring. Clubs that wear Lowe's shirts include Liverpool and Newcastle, but it was the 1994 World Cup and Euro 96 that have been the real drivers behind the sportswear division's annualised sales doubling to pounds 17m in that period.

Packaging, however, is where Mr Sebire sees the greatest growth potential. It makes up 41 per cent of sales with Nelsons, a Manchester-based labels supplier for the likes of Silentnight and Slumberland, particularly benefiting from the improved housing market. Increased consumer spending in the run-up to an election would obviously help the division.

Lowe is keen to expand further in niche label markets such as cosmetics and toiletries though few good opportunities are left in higher-margin areas such as health care.

House broker Greig Middleton looks for pre-tax profits of pounds 2.1m, implying a p/e ratio of under 12 with the shares up 1.5p at 22.5p. Good value.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent