Leeds Group looking at investments

TEXTILES firm Leeds Group said it swung to a full-year profit despite a tough second half.

The Leeds-based group, whose main operations are based in Germany and China, said rather than paying a dividend, it is "identifying appropriate investments that will strengthen the group and benefit all shareholders".

The group is also hunting for a new chairman after Ewen Wigley stood down with immediate effect to focus on other work, after almost four years at the company.

The group reported pre-tax profits of 307,000 for the year to the end of September, compared with 24,000 losses a year earlier.

Profits of 744,000 in its first half offset an "extremely challenging" second half, when sales shrunk and the eurozone crisis reduced margins. Leeds Group's annual sales lifted 7.7 per cent to 27.7m. Sales at its German-based Hemmers-Itex textile import and export business increased by 6.1 per cent to 13.9m during the year.

The AIM-listed company also continued to buy back shares during the year, acquiring 340,000 and cancelling 375,000.

The group's investor base is dominated by Swedish shareholders Peter Gyllenhammar and Johan Claesson, who control 21 per cent and 25 per cent respectively. The group also owns a 29 per cent stake in Scottish textiles firm Dawson International.

It said: "Although Leeds Group has no power to participate in the operating and financial policies of Dawson, the directors will manage the group's investment in a proactive manner that will encourage the management team to focus on realising the perceived incremental shareholder value that was at the root of the investment decision."