UK property boom ignites Aga sales

UK property boom ignites Aga sales

Britain’s housing market revival helped heat up sales at cooker maker Aga Rangemaster as its recent trading has fired ahead.

Group-wide orders are up 3% for the year-to-date, with Aga sales rising by a “promising” 15% in a sharp increase on the 8% hike seen during the six months to the end of June.

Meanwhile Rangemaster orders are just ahead for the year-to-date, despite having fallen 4% in the first six months.

N+1 Singer analysts said it implied an improvement of up to 5% in the second half so far.

William McGrath, chief executive of Aga Rangemaster, said: “The improving housing market creates a more positive backcloth for the group and sales trend lines in most of our operations are encouraging.”

He said Aga sales were a “hot spot”, also helped by a new generation of products, which include the iTotalControl electric Aga models, which can be operated remotely by smartphone.

But he said it was right to be cautious until there was a sustained improvement in household goods spending.

Office for National Statistics figures published this week showed this fell 1.2% in October, amid a wider decline in retail sales last month.

The group said activity overall had picked up as mortgage approvals and housing transactions rose and the launch of a new Aga model in July encouraged existing owners to trade up.

However it added: “The transition from tougher to more normalised markets for our brands is not uniform.”

Rayburn and Stanley cast iron cooker sales were down, while Aga Marvel sales in North America remained “comfortably ahead” of the prior year.

Orders for the group’s floor tiles specialist business Fired Earth were up 4% for the year-to-date but this was a slow down from 5% growth in the first half.

The company said current trends suggested a sound performance for 2013 with an improving outlook for next year as sales and product initiatives bear fruit.

Its first shipment of products for the Chinese market is being made shortly, ahead of a full launch in the first quarter of 2014.

The group indicated earlier this year that the tide was turning in its performance as a first quarter 4% sales fall turned to growth of 5% in the second quarter.

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