Sales growth hands success on a plate to pottery maker Portmeirion

INCREASED sales in the UK and Far East have helped Stoke-on-Trent pottery maker Portmeirion Group improve its full year performance.

The manufacturer said the strong domestic performance as well as those in new markets had helped to offset a decline in sales in its largest market, the United States.

For the year of December 31, 2012, the group saw revenue rise 3.6% to £55.6m (2011: 53.6m), with pre-tax profit up 6.6% to £6.8m (2011: £6.3m). Basic earnings per share rose 10.2% to 48.43p (2011: 43.94p), with the proposed dividend set out at 21.80p, a rise of 11.2% on the previous year.

“Our largest market is the USA and this accounted for 36% of revenues in the year (2011: 40%), our sales here declined by 6.4% in US dollars (the currency in which we sell there) and by 5.3% in sterling (the currency which we translate our sales into to report),” it said in its results statement.

“Our UK sales grew by 7.9% to represent 27% of our revenues (2011: 26%) and our sales to South Korea, driven by new products, were 13.1% higher providing 22% of our revenues (2011: 20%). Sales in the rest of the world, apart from these three key markets, were 7.2% higher with notable inroads being made in India, Hungary and Norway.

“Online sales were 75% higher than in 2011 at over £0.5 million. Having launched a much improved website in 2013, we expect this figure to continue to grow significantly.”
It said profit growth outstripped revenue growth as it continued to drive efficiencies throughout the business. The Stoke factory has become even more efficient and the group said management pressure on overheads was relentless.

Demand for sourced product increased significantly, which it said reflected the demand for the different ranges it produced or sourced rather than a deliberate policy and vindicated the group’s strategy of producing and sourcing as appropriate, especially in regard to the chosen method of manufacture or market segment.  

It added that despite 2012 being a record year for Portmeirion it was not exceptional enough to maximise annual bonuses for the executive team and so there had been savings there. Design, marketing and selling expenses continue to represent significant costs for the company and, as in previous years, the benefits of such expenditure will continue to accrue for many years after the cost is incurred.

In outlook, it said it remained confident even though seasonal bias in revenue and profits made it difficult to predict full year outcomes this early.

“However, we know that we have taken the appropriate steps to build the business for the future – people, product, finance. Trading in the first two months of the year has been broadly level with last year,” it said.

“We are a widely based homewares business. Our brands and ranges have longevity and value, our markets are worldwide and our sourcing is diversified. We are resolute in our core values of attentive design, assured quality, a professional sales approach, nurtured brands and conservative financing. We continue to measure acquisition opportunities against our demanding criteria.”