KITCHEN firm PWS Distributors says it is continuing to invest in new products as it aims to win a bigger share of a shrinking market.
The Newton Aycliffe firm, which develops, markets and manufactures worktops and other components, said sales dipped by 7.4% or nearly £4m to £49.4m in the year to April 30.
The just-published figures also showed a dip in pre-tax profits from £4.4m to £3.1m.
PWS, which sells to the building and furniture trade, said: “Little improvement in the consumer’s appetite for spending on high-value products such as kitchens is detectable and it is not anticipated that this will improve in the near future.
“While the difficult trading climate persists, the business continues to invest in new products and other innovations in order to grow its share of a smaller market.”
During the year, staff numbers fell from 281 to 270. PWS did not pay a dividend to its shareholders for the 2011/12 period.
The family-owned firm manufactures a range of kitchen products from metal, wooden and stone work surfaces to taps.
Originally started as a hardware firm in late Victorian Darlington by Peter William Stephenson, from whom the firm takes its name, the modern PWS kitchen component business emerged in the 1970s.
In 2008, it opened a 90,000sqft factory next to its Newton Aycliffe base to manufacture granite worktops, helped by a £245,000 grant from development agency One North East.