Draftex fights its way back

Problems in its Draftex car body seals subsidiary saw profits plunge at Laird Group last year, but the company has made a strong trading recovery in the first quarter of this year. Unveiling a 64% profits fall, from £67.1m to £23.7m, chairman John Gardiner said changes in the car seals business had produced a big […]

Problems in its Draftex car body seals subsidiary saw profits plunge at Laird Group last year, but the company has made a strong trading recovery in the first quarter of this year.

Unveiling a 64% profits fall, from £67.1m to £23.7m, chairman John Gardiner said changes in the car seals business had produced a big improvement this year. Group sales last year, meanwhile, rose 7% to more than £1.1bn.

Laird took a £16.6m exceptional charge following restructuring. More than £14m is being spent on reorganising Draftex into a single worldwide business with an internationally-organised operating structure.

Gardiner said most of these costs are in Germany, where the engineering and production resources are being refocused and overheads reduced.

Last year the body seals division posted £5.6m losses before exceptionals, compared with a 1997 profit of just under £13m.

Much of this was the result of a £16m investment in Draftex’s new car body seals plant in the US.

Gardiner expects the US business to return to profit this year as it benefits from an expected tripling in demand for its products from automotive manufacturers.