Engineering group giant Smiths warns of tough trading as new chief takes over

Sir George Buckley
Sir George Buckley
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THE WORLD’S biggest maker of airport scanners revealed falling annual sales and warned that trading will remain tough for its largest division as its new chief executive prepares to take the reins.

Engineering conglomerate Smiths Group confirmed Andrew Reynolds Smith will take over at the helm this Friday, joining at a challenging time for the firm, which reported sales falling by 2 per cent to £2.9 billion over the year to July 31.

Incumbent boss Philip Bowman, who announced plans to depart last December, stands down tomorrow and will remain on gardening leave until the end of the year. Smiths is chaired by Yorkshireman Sir George Buckley.

Full-year figures showed revenue down by 4 per cent at John Crane - the group’s biggest division, which counts clients including oil giants BP and Chevron - as it came under pressure from falling energy prices and a currency hit.

The group cautioned that profit margins for its John Crane would now be at the bottom end of City expectations for the new financial year as it said trading was set to remain difficult, with little sign of a recovery in oil prices.

Sales also fell for Smiths Interconnect, as well as for Smiths Detection - its arm that produces X-ray inspection systems, metal detectors and mobile explosive detectors.

But cost savings from its overhaul helped shore up group pre-tax profits, rising 3 per cent to £459m in the year to the end of July.

The group also said Smiths Medical delivered its highest revenue growth in nearly a decade over the year, up 4 per cent.