Aga chief executive William McGrath
STOVE maker Aga Rangemaster has vowed to target more growth in China after admitting markets in the UK and Ireland will remain tough for some time.
Announcing a sharp drop in half-year profits, the maker of the iconic cast-iron Aga cookers said it was being affected by the lack of activity in the property market as customers delay purchasing big ticket items.
It has developed new products, including a five-oven electric Aga due to be launched next month, and driven sale volumes of its classic Aga 4% higher with the help of promotions and stock clearances over the half year.
Revenues in the first half were 1.8% lower at £119.2m, but Aga said the success of newer models and its increased focus on export markets would help it make up the shortfall over the second half of the year. Chief executive William McGrath said: “The group has tremendous brands, the best generation of products it has ever had and capacity available in most of its factories.
“With the established UK and Irish markets likely to remain weak for some time in the current economic environment, the onus is on new markets such as China and on raising market penetration in markets like North America, where our market position is not yet fully developed.”
The Leamington Spa-based company, which also sells refrigerators and sinks, reported half-year pre-tax profits of £1.6m, compared with £4.2 million a year earlier.
It will not pay a dividend to shareholders as part of an agreement reached over future pension contributions.