Whitecroft quits uPVC market

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WHITECROFT'S shares initially collapsed by 14p to 23p yesterday after more grim trading news, and details of a radical shake-up of the Cheshire-based group's activities.

The shares, which closed at 27p, have been in sharp retreat since June. Details then of a 27 per cent drop in full-year profits and a big dividend cut pulled the rug from under a share price that was bumping along at about 130p.

Whitecroft said yesterday that it was abandoning the struggle to make money in the home improvement market for uPVC windows and conservatories.

In addition, 15 names from head office are being added to the 600 who have already lost their jobs this year.

Peter Goold, chairman, said all five uPVC companies had either been or were being sold. The five lost pounds 1.7m in the year to March, and are predicted to make a 'higher than expected' loss of more than pounds 1m in the latest six months.

Mod Dec Windows has been sold to management, and a private company has bought Lightning Windows, for nominal amounts. Negotiations are being held with several potential buyers for Rowcroft Windows, Finch Conservatories and Profilia.

The Whitecroft group now expects to lose pounds 1m pre-tax in the six months to the end of this month, before pounds 4m of write-offs because of the withdrawal from uPVC windows and conservatories. There will be no interim dividend.

The extraordinary item in the accounts will also incorporate pounds 23.8m of goodwill previously written off, reflecting changes in accounting rules, but this will not affect shareholders' funds.

Whitecroft will now concentrate on core businesses, including Leaderflush Doors, which is involved in the group's only 'major' capital expenditure programme.