LOOKING AHEAD: Profit has risen despite weak sales of artificial grass and plans are being hatched to establish in markets further afield.
The company, which has its registered office in Dundee at the Bonar Yarns operation, reported a rise in turnover from £182.6 million to £183.9m.
In the six months to May 31, 2012, profit before tax, amortisation and non-recurring items increased from £7.9m to £9.6m, even with tricky economic conditions and the cost of polymers.
The pre-tax profit figure showed a decline from £11.2m to £6.3m although there was a £6.4m credit from the company pension scheme in the 2011 figure.
The operating margin increased from 6.5% to 6.9% while the interim dividend was raised 14% from 0.7p to 0.8p.
Steve Good, chief executive, said there had been investment in sales, marketing and health and safety across the business while setting up a group procurement team was bringing cost benefits.
He said: "We continue to execute our strategy and it is a fifth consecutive half-year of substantial profit growth in what were pretty difficult markets.
"It is about where we have positioned the group and in which niche market. A lot of our activity doesn't ebb and flow in line with the economic cycle.
"Elements of what we do in civil engineering, flooring and building products are underpinned by strong structural growth drivers. That, along with keeping innovating and giving things which make a difference to customers, is what keep us going forward."
Mr Good confirmed Low & Bonar, which makes products ranging from carpet backing and cinema curtain fabric to truck tarpaulins and artificial sports turf, would continue to look at acquisitions.
He said: "If we can find niches in technologies or products which we can leverage through our own distribution we will do that. Things like that interest us as do things which allow us to establish ourselves in geographies where we are currently not punching our weight. I'm thinking of Latin America and potentially Asia."
The performance technical textiles division, which includes about 120 people making yarn and artificial grass in Dundee, reported a 6% increase in sales to £127.9m.
However that was mainly through civil engineering, flooring and building products, with artificial grass sales very weak.
Mr Good said: "The yarns business is part way through a plan to get its performance in line with the rest of the group. We successfully moved it from a loss-making business to a profitable one last year by adjusting its cost base as we closed down a Belgian plant to focus on Abu Dhabi and Dundee.
"The market is still weak. We are treading water and remaining profitable but we are not moving ahead, which was our plan this year."
Sales in the technical coated fabrics arm – which supplies products to the print, architecture, transport, leisure and industrial sectors – were up by 0.6% to £56m
Western Europe remains the company's biggest market with £112.7m of revenue generated in the period followed by North America at £32.8m.
In the UK revenues increased from £10.2m to £11.8m.
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