Spirax’s growth slows

Cheltenham-based engineering group Spirax-Sarco reported an 18 per cent increase in 2008 profits, but said sales were down five per cent in the early weeks of 2009.


Cheltenham-based engineering group Spirax-Sarco has reported an 18 per cent increase in 2008 profits, but said sales were down five per cent in the early weeks of 2009.


The specialist steam-systems producer said that despite its positive results, conditions deteriorated across all of its geographic regions as the year progressed.


The company cut its dividend for the year by 11 per cent to 33.3p.


Overall, sales in 2008 were up to £502.3m, a 20 per cent increase from the previous year and pre-tax profits for the period rose from £72.8m to £90.1m.


Following strong demand from domestic and overseas markets, sales in the UK increased by 12 per cent to £49.2m.


However, towards the end of the year, sales were weakened significantly because of poor market conditions and higher material costs.


According to Spirax, its global operations in 2008 benefited from favourable currency movements, with the pound around nine per cent weaker in 2008.


Operations in South America were particularly strong, with good growth in Europe, Asia and North America.


Chairman Mike Townsend said that the group would be preparing for tough market conditions and taking ‘strong actions’ to address the uncertain economic outlook in the coming year.


As part of its cost-saving strategy, redundancies will be made to its back office, support and manufacturing staff, in order to save £8m a year.


In a statement, the company said: ‘These steps will allow us to continue to make other necessary investments in new product development and geographic expansion for the long-term growth of the business.


‘If recent exchange rates continue, we would see further exchange benefits within our results in 2009.’