Gas mask manufacturer enjoys increase in sales

Wiltshire manufacturer Avon Protection has enjoyed a strong second half to the year.

The company, which makes gas masks and other specialist products, has released a trading update.

It said trading in the second half of 2023 was stronger than in the first half, with order book growth and higher underlying earnings.

Orders have increased by over 10 per cent compared to the prior year, with strong demand for helmets offsetting expected softness in respiratory demand.

The company  now has £48m of outstanding orders for Next Generation Integrated Head Protection System (“NG IHPS”) helmets and has recently received a further delivery order valued at over £5.7m for the Advanced Combat Helmet GEN II (“ACH GEN II”), bringing total outstanding orders for this helmet to over £16.4m.

As expected, revenue excluding armour in the second half was significantly above the first half, driven by the successful ramp up of the NG IHPS programme, encouraging sales of the new EPIC range of helmets and shipment of a previously announced large mask order.

Second half adjusted operating profit margin was broadly flat versus with some early benefits from the strengthen and transform initiatives within the firm’s STAR strategy.

Chief executive Jos Sclater said: “We are now seeing more reliable financial performance as a result of our actions to strengthen the business by increasing accountability and improving operations and programme management.

“In particular, we have demonstrated our ability to deliver helmets to the DOD, which is reflected by a stronger order book.

“Our focus is now turning to our multi-year plan to improve margins through the transform pillar of our STAR strategy. I am delighted to see the Avon team rising to the challenge of realising our full potential and remain excited by the significant opportunity to expand cash-backed margins, accelerate growth and improve return on capital.”