30 May 2013

Australian sales downturn drags on Methven profit

9:19 am on 30 May 2013

Australia continues to be a thorn in Methven's side with group profit dropping a fifth following tough trading conditions in the company's major markets.

The listed tap and showerware maker's profit fell to $5.2 million in the year to the end of March, compared with $6.5 million for the same period a year ago.

Stripping out one-off adjustments, profit fell 11% to $6.1 million.

The group's operating earnings fell more than 3% to nearly $13 million.

Operations did improve in New Zealand and Britain, but remain weak in Australia, with sales falling nearly 13%.

The company will pay a final dividend of 4.5 cents per share.

Methven Group's departing chief executive Rick Fala says the last financial year was very tough and the next year is going to be difficult in Australia.

Mr Fala says some of the company's competitors are reporting reduced figures and demand for their products, which will have a flow on effect for Methven.

He says consumers in Australia are uncertain whether they should be spending on new housing, which has lead to a fall in the number of housing consents in that market.

However the Australian market also moves faster than the New Zealand, on either an upturn or a downturn, which he says makes it hard to pick what will happen.

Mr Fala says the company wants to drive its costs down, use new market initiatives, gain market share from competitors and at least stabilise earnings for the next year. Anything more than that would be a bonus, he says.

Mr Fala expects the business in New Zealand to continue to grow based on the improved economic outlook, and profit to also grow in the UK which should outweigh problems in Australia.

He says the company has restructured its cost base in the UK and is now able to generate profits off a very low base.

Methven will give more detailed guidance at its annual meeting at the end of July and will pay a final dividend of 4.5 cents per share.