Aga fired up as housing gets cooking

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THE resurgent housing market fired up profits at cast-iron cooker maker AGA Rangemaster yesterday after a sharp turnaround in fortunes since the summer.

The group behind the distinctive AGA ovens said the ‘’tide turning’’ in house sales proved pivotal as it achieved underlying profits of £8.2m in 2013, an increase of 26.2 per cent on a year earlier.

Sales of AGA cookers were up 10 per cent for the year, having been down two per cent at the half year stage.

There was also a sharp shift towards electric cooker models, which represented 70 per cent of sales in the year.

AGA Dual Control, which was launched in June, has three or five electric ovens on one system and two separate hobs. It has proved popular with owners used to keeping a classic AGA on for sustained periods but who want to cut the running costs compared with an oil fired AGA.

Bottom-line profits were lower at £1.1m, compared with £1.7m a year earlier, due to the impact of servicing the company’s pension scheme deficit.

Current order intake is more than six per cent ahead of prior year, better than the improved growth rates achieved in the second half of 2013. The Leamington Spa-based company recently announced price increases for both AGA and Rangemaster of over three per cent at the end of March.

AGA said markets remained difficult for its cooker and boiler brands as Rayburn and Stanley rely heavily on refurbishment projects. Rangemaster had a slow start to the year and volumes were four per cent lower at the half year.

However, the company was able to stimulate the market with new products.

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