Chinese cooking is the future for iconic Aga

Iconic cooker maker Aga Rangemaster will look to China’s new middle class to make up for waning markets at home that show no sign of improving.

Announcing a sharp drop in half-year profits from £4.2 million to £1.6m, the firm said it was being affected by the lack of activity in the UK property market.

Despite promotions and stock clearances, revenues were 1.8 per cent lower at £119.2m but the company said the success of newer models and its increased focus on export markets would help it make up the shortfall over the second half.

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Chief executive William McGrath said: “With the established UK and Irish markets likely to remain weak for some time, the onus is on new markets such as China and on raising penetration in markets like North America, where our position is not yet fully developed.”

The need to make up a pension shortfall meant Aga will not pay a dividend at this stage.

Helal Miah, an analyst at The Share Centre, said that with only 15 per cent of sales coming from outside of Europe, Aga had plenty of scope for expansion.

Miah said: “We continue to list the company as a ‘buy’ for high-risk investors. We believe international expansion and any signs of an improving global economy will yield significant improvements in the group’s sales prospects.”