Aga turns up the heat on exports

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THE maker of the iconic cast iron Aga cooker grew its profits by 12 per cent last year, as “determined efforts” helped it tackle weak consumer conditions.

Revenues fell 2.5 per cent to £244.6m, and the total sale of 10,300 cast iron cookers was well down on the figure of 19,600 recorded in the boom years.

However, Aga Rangemaster said that new ranges and the targeting of export markets had helped it to weather the storm.

Profits rose to £8.4m and the company expects greater impetus in the coming months, after an encouraging month of trading in February.

Chief executive William McGrath said: “2012 was a year which required the most determined efforts to achieve profit growth. While a market upturn in the near future is unlikely, our prospects are good.”

Electric models, which give the owner more control over costs, cooking quality and household warmth, now account for almost two-thirds of Aga sales.

For its Rangemaster cooker range it was a “satisfactory” year, even though volumes fell back to just below 60,000 units from 62,000 the year before.

Mr McGrath added: “The pressures on consumers have reduced the number of house moves and larger improvement initiatives.

“These factors have impacted our operations for some years, and we have to prepare for a continuation of the flat markets we have been seeing.”

More than a third of the company’s revenues were generated overseas, helped by good growth in France, Holland and Belgium and the launch of a reciprocal trading relationship with Chinese manufacturer Vatti.