Royal Doulton still troubled but losses are narrowing

UK tableware manufacturer Royal Doulton reported at the end of August a narrowing of first-half losses but said its performance was by no way an indicative reflection of the state of the beleaguered p…

UK tableware manufacturer Royal Doulton reported at the end of August a narrowing of first-half losses but said its performance was by no way an indicative reflection of the state of the beleaguered pottery industry. On sales down 15% to GBP 69.7 million, in the six months to the end of June, Royal Doulton reduced operating costs by 11%, following an intensive overhaul of the Stoke-on-Trent based company. The company secured a GBP 18.7 million three-for-one rights issue in March to the chagrin of its largest shareholder and rival Waterford Wedgwood, also selling off assets and slashing 500 jobs across the group in a bid to take GBP 15 million worth of costs out of the business in the next two years. The result was a pre-tax loss of GBP 7.7 million compared with a previous loss of GBP 10.5 million. Royal Doulton also managed to cut its debt by GBP 9.3 million to GBP 15 million and equity shareholders“ funds stood at GBP 52 million, giving a gearing of 29%, down substantially from the 58% at the end of 2001. Royal Doulton said it would finally cease production at its Baddeley Green site in December with the loss of a further 300 jobs. Working relations with Waterford, which holds a 21.16% stake in the company, continue to be good despite the fact that Waterford had objected to Royal Doulton“s recent rights issue plan. Waterford had favoured its own alternative restructuring plans for the then cash-strapped Royal Doulton, which included buying the Royal Albert brand for GBP 24 million in cash.