YP75: FTSE ended on high note in a busy week for region’s firms

In a busy week for Yorkshire companies, the FTSE 100 closed nearly 2 per cent higher despite US non-farm payrolls coming in weaker than expected on Friday afternoon.

Sheffield based property and construction company Henry Boot announced the sale of Ayr Central Shopping Centre for just short of £34m. Sovereign Land and AREA Property Partners have agreed to purchase the 180,000 sq. foot centre which is anchored by Debenhams and Primark. Henry Boot also announced the sale of a site at Buckingham for an undisclosed sum.

The site, which has planning permission for 700 dwellings has been purchased by housebuilders Barratt Developments and Bovis Homes Group. Overall, the two sales will result in Henry Boot moving to a net cash position.

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The final three months of 2010 saw Cranswick continue the positive trading seen in the first half of the year as like for like sales increased by 5 per cent. Cranswick, based in Hull, is a leading UK food supplier well known for its gourmet sausage and pork business. Seasonal uplift in working capital has seen net debt rise by 28.5 per cent to £54m although this is still well short of last year’s level of £67m which management believes reflects the cash generative nature of the business.

Outdoor leisure retailer Discover Leisure, announced the sale of a freehold property in Darlington to Stonegrave Aggregates for a cash considera-tion of £385,000. Discover stated the 1.3 acre site has a book value of £172,000 therefore the deal has generated a profit in excess of £200,000. The proceeds are earmarked to pay down two loans outstanding with Natwest Bank. Discover Leisure have agreed to lease the site back from Stonegrave Aggregates for up to one year whilst a replacement facility is developed on Discover’s main Darlington retail site with the eventual transfer of business expected to have only a minor impact upon revenues and profit.

International engineering service firm Redhall Group, whose companies include Booth Industries, Jordan Nuclear and Jex Engineering, warned that first quarter trading has been slower than previously anticipated although full year results are still expected to be in line with the board’s expectations.

A number of major contracts have been affected by adverse weather although the contract pipeline remains relatively strong. Redhall Group also announced the resignation of chief executive Simon Foster with effect from March 31. Mr Foster is leaving for family reasons with chairman David Jackson assuming executive responsibilities whilst a replacement is sought.

Finally, digital television set-top maker Pace confirmed it is working towards a contract with a satellite operator for the launch of a new digital service, believed to be in India. The shares reacted positively to the news and ended the week 7 per cent higher at 204p.