Upmarket consumers flocked to buy Aga cookers after the Tory election victory earlier this year as they abandoned pre-poll caution, it was revealed today.
The cookers’ maker, Aga Rangemaster, said they had seen a slow start to 2015 for sales but there had been a “marked change in attitude” after May’s vote.
It added that its Rangemaster lines benefited from greater consumer confidence as well as higher incomes feeding through to more spending on the home and house moves.
The firm reported a 1.5% increase in revenues to £125.4 million for the six months to the end of June as it prepares to be taken over by US kitchen equipment firm Middleby in a deal set to complete next month, valuing Aga at £129 million.
Operating profits were up 16.7% to £2.8 million but bottom line pre-tax profits for the half-year widened from £300,000 to £4 million thanks to a higher pension charge and the £3 million cost of advisers on the takeover deal.
Chairman John Coleman said: “The year started quite slowly for Aga cooker sales with consumers continuing to be cautious. Following the election there has been a marked change in attitude.”
Mr Coleman said the group’s core market in the UK was seeing “an economic and political backdrop that is likely to be conducive to increased levels of consumer spending on household goods”.
The chairman said that as a result recent trends of higher sales and profits were expected to continue.
Rangemaster cookers “had a strong end to the period after a slow start as greater consumer confidence and higher household incomes fed through to expenditure on the home and into house moves”, he added.
It did well with key retailers such as Dixons Carphone, AO and John Lewis. International sales were ahead and the firm made its first sales to Chinese consumers.
Mr Coleman added that Aga cooker lines introduced at the end of 2013 were now well-established as best-selling models.
Meanwhile the Aga City 60 – designed to be more convenient for younger, urban customers – was now established in the market and “attracting a wider audience to the brand”, with a gas hob version to be launched this autumn.
Cast iron cooker and stove sales in Ireland remained slow but the Aga Marvel brand had an “excellent” first half in North America. The group’s Fired Earth tiles brand continued to see “strong, profitable growth”.
Chief executive William McGrath said: “Our product investment programmes have ensured we are ready to benefit from the improving trading backcloth. Working with Middleby should provide additional momentum to enable our operations to thrive.”
A shareholder meeting to approve the takeover will take place on September 8 and it is expected to complete by September 23.