Portmeirion profits up as sales hit £55m record
POTTERY company Portmeirion has posted record sales of £55.5 million.
The group, which includes the Portmeirion, Spode, Royal Worcester and Pimpernel brands, said it has 'built the business for the future' after announcing a 6.6 per cent increase in pre tax profits.
In its results for the year ending December 31, 2012, it saw profit before tax rise to £6.8 million, compared to £6.3 million in 2011.
Chief executive Lawrence Bryan, far right, said the results were strong despite a drop in revenue from the U.S., the company's largest market, which was blamed on a number of challenging conditions including Superstorm Sandy and the Presidential elections.
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UK sales grew by 7.9 per cent to represent 27 per cent of group revenues and sales to South Korea, driven by new products, were 13.1 per cent higher.
Sales in the rest of the world, were 7.2 per cent higher with the firm reporting notable inroads being made in India, Hungary and Norway.
However, sales of products manufactured in Stoke-on-Trent were 3.4 per cent below the levels of 2011, compared to an increase in demand for sourced products.
Portmeirion said it believes the figures simply reflect the demand for different ranges 'rather than a deliberate policy'.
Mr Bryan added: "The demand for UK-made products is down a little bit primarily because we export 75 per cent of what we make.
"There is a bit of a rebirth of Made in Britain products for consumption in the British market. We do anticipate that's a good sign and think there will be an increase in demand this year."
The business has launched more than 360 new products this year including a range to celebrate the Queen's coronation. It is also planning new products to mark the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's baby.
Jobs at Portmeirion increased over the year with 587 people now working for the group which has a factory in London Road, Stoke, and distribution centres in Trentham Lakes, Connecticut and China. Employment stood at 579 in 2011.
Yesterday's figures showed the group's pension scheme deficit stands at £5 million, a small increase on 2011 despite £0.8 million contributions over the year.
Portmeirion said it was monitoring the deficit, and that it was dealing with the increased costs of the Anti-Dumping Duty imposed by the European Commission – a tariff imposed on imports the EU believes are priced below fair market value.
Mr Bryan said: "The pension deficit is, we consider, very manageable.
"The Anti-Dumping Duty was introduced in November and at the beginning of March the rate was reduced. It is still under review and the possibility is it will be either dropped or reduced again by May. Either way, this is already on top of the normal customs duty we pay out of China and ultimately it hits customers.
"The reason why we make some products over there is not because it is cheaper, but because it is a porcelain body we don't make in Stoke. It will definitely cause us a problem but we are preparing to deal with it."
The company praised its workforce for its contribution to the group's success.
Dick Steele, non-executive chairman, said: "Our global brands are respected and valuable, our product ranges are excellent, our people are best in class and our balance sheet is strong. We remain confident for the future." Analysts at investment bank Panmure Gordon & Co said: "Despite the competition, Portmeirion brands continue to enjoy firm favourite status at retailers such as John Lewis."