Slinsgby sees no end to the tough conditions as turnover and profits drop

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WORKPLACE equipment provider HC Slingsby reported a drop in turnover and pre-tax profits in its half-year results amid “challenging” trading conditions.

The company, which is based at Baildon, near Bradford, saw turnover fall to £7.5m in the six months to June 30, from £7.8m in the previous year, it said yesterday.

Meanwhile, pre-tax profits were down to £200,000 from £300,000 in 2011.

However, its operating margin before exceptional items improved to 6.1 per cent, from 4.9 per cent in the previous year.

Chairman John Waterhouse said in a statement to the stock exchange this was driven by “management actions to decrease costs, including reducing staff numbers”.

He said: “Current trading conditions are still tough with no visible signs of recovery.

“The board nevertheless believes that your group remains in a reasonable position to take advantage of opportunities for expansion and any upturn in the economy whenever that may occur.”

HC Slingsby, which dates back to 1893, manufactures and distributes more than 35,000 products for the workplace; from handling and lifting and premises equipment to retail and office supplies.

Mr Waterhouse said: “The decision taken in September 2011 to source more product lines from the Far East and hold larger quantities of our fast moving lines to facilitate next-day delivery also helped us to maintain margin in a very competitive market.”

The group, which had net cash of £3m at June 30, said it incurred exceptional redundancy costs of £100,000, resulting in operating profit, post-exceptionals, of £300,000, compared to £400,000 in 2011.

The deficit on the group’s defined benefit pension scheme increased to £10.7m, “primarily due to lower bond yields increasing scheme liabilities and, to a lesser extent, weaker equity market returns”. The board recommended an unchanged interim dividend of 4p.

HC Slingsby saw pre-tax profits fall from £1.1m to £400,000 for the year to December 31, 2011. Sales fell from £16.7m to £15.2m.