US losses slow Pentland

LOSSES in footwear operations in America largely undermined advances made elsewhere in the Pentland Group in 1993. Underlying operating profits dipped from pounds 9.8m to pounds 8.8m, but improved to pounds 12m after adding contributions from acquisitions.

Frank Farrant, finance director of the branded sports and shoes company, said: 'The goal in 1994 is to stem the losses. If we achieve that it will help us a lot.'

The business suffered from being too fragmented. 'There were a number of brands in different areas which we have now put into one.'

Supply sources have also been rationalised and shoes are now mainly bought from the Far East and South America.

Stephen Rubin, chairman, said the losses, which the company declined to quantify, contrasted with strong performances elsewhere.

Volume and profit grew in the Speedo division, and Kickers and the greeting cards division did well, he said.

Berghaus, the upmarket clothing business and one of Pentland's most recent acquisitions, also did well.

Group pre-tax profits, excluding exceptional items, dropped by pounds 10m to pounds 16.1m, with interest income depressed by falling rates.

The dividend is being increased by 12 per cent to 2.8p through a 1.64p final payment.