Wool price hits Leeds performance

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The Independent Online
LEEDS GROUP, the fabric printer and yarn dyeing company, pushed profits ahead despite losing production at one factory and suffering from sharply lower wool prices, writes Robert Cole.

Pre-tax profits were 16 per cent higher at pounds 2.9m for the six months to 31 March. Turnover climbed 4 per cent to pounds 21.7m.

Robert Wade, the chairman, said the group had been chasing sales at the expense of profit margins. The figures are distorted by the wool price, which has fallen by 31 per cent in the past 12 months.

Profits were held back by a fire, caused by arson, at the Walsden plant, West Yorkshire. The fire interrupted what promised to be a strong performance by the factory. A full insurance settlement is awaited.

Earnings per share rose 14 per cent to 10.8p. Leeds usually lifts the dividend in line with earnings but the company paid a little more (an 18 per cent improvement to 2.75p) to compensate shareholders for Budget changes that affected them.