Aga cooking up a storm after sales pick up
THE maker of iconic cast iron Aga cookers yesterday said it was on track to meet forecasts for this year after a seasonal pick-up in sales.
Aga Rangemaster warned its markets were tough but said it was encouraged by another successful year for Rangemaster cookers and a 5% hike in Aga volumes this year as owners upgraded their models and burner systems.
This was offset by a decline in volumes of all-in-one cooker-boiler brands, Rayburn and Stanley, although the Leamington Spa-based firm hopes to reverse this trend next year as a new range of boilers is completed.
Overall, chief executive William McGrath said he was encouraged by the performance of the company’s brands during the autumn selling period, despite tough house market conditions.
He added: “Recent research we commissioned shows range cookers are on trend and aspirational and for many move the heart of the home from the living room to the kitchen.
“As we are focused on range cookers and kitchen living these trend lines provide confidence in our prospects.”
Rangemaster has been the main contributor to the group during 2010, with cooker volumes up 5% and exports now accounting for 25% of sales.
And products that complement the cooker now account for 30p in addition to every £1 of revenue in the UK from sales of Rangemaster cookers.
The UK generated 62% of sales in the half-year, with 23% coming from Europe and 15% in North America and the rest of the world.
Helped by the launch of new ranges, Aga said it expected to achieve record stove volumes in Ireland, despite the country’s economic crisis.
Meanwhile, sales in North America have slowed over the autumn, reflecting the low level of housing transactions.
Across the group, Aga said the seasonal pick-up in activity during the autumn meant it expected to report results in line with its expectations.
Aga recently agreed a recovery plan with the trustee of its pension scheme, under which it will make contributions of £2m in 2010 and 2011, followed by £10m a year between 2012 and 2020 and a one-off £48m at the end of 2020. The scheme was close to returning to surplus at the end of October.