Truck maker to lift production 40% to meet take-off in demand: ERF chairman confident as turnover soars and losses decline

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN'S last independent truck maker, ERF, said it would raise production 40 per cent over the next three months to meet increased UK demand.

Peter Foden, chairman and chief executive of the company, which is based in Cheshire, said he was increasingly confident that recession in the heavy truck industry was ending.

'We have seen a substantial increase in new orders since the year- end. We think that it will continue through the rest of the year, and that 1995 might see further improvement.'

Demand was from small and large companies, which he believed were introducing truck replacement programmes after years of using older vehicles.

The company has just over 10 per cent of the British market, which has seen total truck sales rise 30 per cent since the start of 1994.

The company yesterday reported a pre-tax loss for the year to 2 April sharply reduced at pounds 26,000, against pounds 4.1m. Turnover was up from pounds 112m to pounds 150m.

Profits of pounds 453,000 after interest in the second half followed a pounds 1.4m loss in the same period last year.

Total unit sales were 2,339, against 1,942, an increase of 20.4 per cent. 'Margins are still under pressure but we have partly offset this by improvements in productivity and cost-saving measures,' Mr Foden said.

Exports to mainland Europe remain difficult because of continuing recession, although Mr Foden expects sales at the South African subsidiary to pick up now that the political situation has settled.

The final dividend is 2p, unchanged for the year.