SUPERGLASS, the Stirling-based insulation manufacturer, has unveiled its first profit in a decade, boosted by strong demand from the UK housebuilding sector.

The company, which since 2016 has been part of Russian industrialist Sergey Kolesnikov’s Technonicol Group, reported underlying profits of £564,000 for the year to December 31.

The one-time AIM-listed business said it reaped the rewards last year from higher volumes and two price increases applied to its glass wool insulation, which helped deliver its first profit before tax and exceptional items since 2009. It followed a loss of £1.7 million in 2017, when exceptional items of £2.5m, related to the depreciation of plant and equipment, weighed on results.

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The company’s performance underlines the advances made by the group, which employs around 170 people in Stirling, since becoming part of the Cyprus-based Technonicol Group.

Superglass had seen its fortunes decline during a tumultuous spell between 2010 and 2015. It hit difficulties as schemes sponsored by the government to boost energy efficiency through subsidising home insulation began to unravel. The firm had been exised heavily to that market.

Technonicol, which acquired the firm for £8.7m, has since reshaped the company’s strategy to focus on higher-margin materials while investing £37m in ongoing work to redevelop its manufacturing plant. The work, which involves its 187-tonne furnace, curing ovens, cooling and milling equipment being replaced and an automatic packaging system being installed, will double annual production capacity at the site to 60,000 tonnes.

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Joining Technonicol has allowed Superglass to introduce new products, tap into technical expertise and break into new markets.

Turnover surged by 39 per cent last year to £32.9m, which came as sales expanded in the UK and Ireland as well as other markets. Sales to the rest of the world grew to £7.5m from £4.8m, with France its biggest export market.

Writing in the accounts, the directors note that the “excess demand” experienced by the company for its glass wool insulation led to it being placed on “restricted allocation”.

And bosses said the demand for glass wool has remained high in its current financial year, leading the company to predict it would deliver a further “step change” in its results for 2019.

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Theresa McLean, chief financial officer for Technonicol UK and Ireland, said: “The results Superglass achieved in the 2018 financial year are positive. Returning to profit following structural and strategic changes for the business is, however, just the start of the journey. The latest results provide a springboard for a positive step change in trading results in the years ahead.

“Demand for glass wool insulation continues to be very strong both domestically and in export markets, and with the major manufacturing investment we’re making in the Stirling site, Superglass is set to double its production output capabilities and capitalise on the opportunity.

“Despite political uncertainty, the appetite for the premium insulation solutions that we offer is expected to continue. We have solid foundations from which to continue to build the successful Superglass brand for years to come.”

Superglass notes in the accounts that the company is “fully prepared to manage certain potential consequences for the operation of our business” arising from Brexit. Directors highlight the importance of smooth trading and border arrangements to its production process and supply chains. And they stress the need for rapid clarity on the outcome of Brexit talk to be able to adjust its transport and logistics requirements.

“Strategically, however, the overall direction of the business is one of growth regardless of the eventual Brexit outcome,” the directors add.

The accounts show the firm employed an average of 172 staff last year, up from 161 with payroll costs up to £7.7m from £7m.