Aga aims to make its mark overseas to give lift to revenues

THEY’RE best known for keeping passions smouldering in novelist Joanna Trollope’s best-selling Aga sagas.

The Aga sagas, as any fan of contemporary fiction will tell you, examine the passions of middle class life in rural England.

But the firm behind Aga Cookers has its sights set overseas, as it posted a three per cent drop in revenues to £250.9m. The firm insisted it can still return to pre-credit crunch levels of trading.

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Aga Rangemaster wants at least half of its revenues to be generated from outside the UK, compared with 37 per cent last year.

The company believes its products are now better suited to international markets.

It sold 11,000 cast iron cookers in 2011, a drop of six per cent on a year earlier, but sales of its Aga cookers were flat following May's launch of an electric equivalent, controlled by a hi-tech touch screen, that can heat up in 22 minutes, compared to around six hours for the original design.

Despite the latest sales decline, Aga said it continued to believe it can restore cast iron cooker sales to 19,600, the level seen in 2007.

Sales volumes for its Rangemaster range of cookers were around 62,000 units in 2011, below the 2007 level of 76,000, but good demand from France in 2011 has fuelled hopes that it will be able to drive export orders.

The company added: “We still do not expect material volumes changes in the UK, given the housing and consumer markets, which makes international sales – contributing over a quarter of Rangemaster sales volumes – so significant.”

Leamington Spa-based Aga has weathered the downturn in sales through cost efficiency measures made between 2008 and 2010.