PREMIER Hytemp, the North Sea-focused steel business sold earlier this month by Murray International Holdings, reported rising sales and a return to profitability in its final full year as part of former Rangers Football Club owner Sir David Murray's business empire.

Premier Hytemp Holdings, based at Newbridge near Edinburgh, made a £1.5 million pre-tax profit in the year to June 30, 2012, accounts filed with Companies House revealed.

This was a significant turnaround from the £1.7m loss of the previous year.

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Turnover was up 15.1% at £60.3m, of which £12.6m was generated in the UK.

However, net debt increased over the year from £29.1m to £31.6m.

The directors of the company said in their report: "The Premier Hytemp businesses have had a very strong year with significant growth in terms of sales and profitability.

"Headcount has been expanded in critical areas to further develop commercial firepower, manufacturing capacity and further improve product quality and customer service."

Overall staff numbers rose from 184 to an average of 225 during the year.

However, there were redundancies following a reorganisation at its alloy scrap arm Ireland Alloys, which cost the company £50,000 in exceptional charges.

The highest-paid director a the company received £431,000, including pension contributions. This was up 8.3% on the previous year.

Premier Hytemp was sold in a £34.5m management buy-out led by managing director Donald Wilson and backed by private equity house Dunedin.

Premier Hytemp has manufacturing facilities in Edinburgh, Sheffield and Singapore, operations in Calgary, Canada, and is shortly to open a base in Dubai.

Premier Hytemp was formed in 2008 when Sir David's Premier Alloys, established in 1985, acquired Sheffield-based Hillfoot Steel which owned oil specialist Hytemp, set up in 1976.