Flooring specialist’s FY operating profits up 9.2%

AIREA saw 2023 full-year revenues rise by 14% to £21.1m, and operating profits up 9.2% to £1.8m.

The firm, which implemented its sustainability principles during the year, launched two carbon-neutral products and refreshed two low-carbon products during the period.

It said a £5m investment in its Osset factory, announced in January, would increase capacity and automate some processes by using AI imagery and inspection.

Mederic Payne

Chief executive Médéric Payne said, “AIREA made excellent progress in 2023 and has maintained a high standard of service to our customers, with revenue growth of 14.1% over the period. The growth was driven by an increase in demand for our more sustainable product ranges, with limited cost increases as raw material inflation eased through the second half of the year.

“We have firmly re-established our presence within the UK and ROI, outperforming the market. This has given the Group confidence to achieve greater growth scalability in the wider European and other key international markets.

“We more closely aligned our key products to the Group’s ten market sectors throughout 2023, resulting in an increased rate of sales growth. We continue to work closely with our customers to meet their needs and provide a market-leading service.”

Though economic conditions remained challenging, he said the firm had made a good start to the year. “Demand remains high for our carbon-neutral and low-carbon products, and we are confident of continuing to outperform the market through 2024,” he said.

Payne said the new processes in the Osset factory would enable AIREA to double the speed of production. “It also allows us to improve the quality in so many ways – checking consistently that a tile is absolutely perfect.

“And if you’re doubling the speed of the machines, you need the technology to keep up with that and automation. So we’re going to have both parts of the project – the robots, and evolving the staff.”

Payne said he felt positive about the outlook for AIREA. “If you look at all our markets, particularly with the international market, we’re very confident about the outlook for large renovation works. We’re seeing new building permits for new projects coming back, where there was a lull. We’re going to see demand for ’26, ’27 for new office buildings that are going to be very interesting. But the immediate interest is more renovation-type office fit-outs.”

AIREA works across international markets, and is now designing ranges for particular markets. “I’ve had a whole team out to Dubai with me looking at the region, understanding that there’s different shades, different requirements. We’re going to have a range that’s adaptive, but there is a common core.

“Our marketing has been to raise the profile, we’ve refreshed the brands. We’re doing a lot of what I would call from my days in retail customer-facing initiatives that will engage, and trying to listen to what the customer is saying.”

He added, “There’s nothing wrong with promoting ‘Made in Britain’, or ‘Yorkshire-made’. We’ve got a lot of work with the Chamber of British Commerce in the Middle East now. They’re very happy for us to come out – they love a good manufacturing story as well.”