New leaders urged to boost energy scheme

SUPERGLASS, the Stirling-based insulation manufacturer, has called on whichever party takes power after 6 May to extend an energy-efficiency scheme as a matter of urgency.

After swinging back into the black with its interim results yesterday, the firm highlighted the need to extend the UK government's carbon emissions reduction target (Cert) scheme, under which utility companies subsidise customers installing energy-efficient technologies.

Superglass chief executive Alex MacLeod, who took over in November, said that extending the Cert scheme had cross-party support and so the scheme should not depend on which party wins the election.

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Falling energy prices and lower interest charges helped Superglass to swing from an interim loss of 200,000 last year to a pre-tax profit of 400,000

Profits before amortisation grew by 700,000 to 2.6 million, boosted by a 1.1m fall in fuel costs and 700,000 saved through lower interest on debt. Superglass also paid down its bank debt by a further 2.2m, taking the total to 19.5m.

Ken Rumph, an analyst at Nomura, said the group looked "fit for the upturn".

MacLeod said Superglass' sales had fallen by 16 per cent in the six months to 28 February to 16.8m "due in large part to a temporary funding shortage in the Cert scheme".

But MacLeod expects Cert to "significantly drive demand" for insulation from 2011 onwards, with stricter building regulations being introduced in October also expected to boost business next year.

Yet Superglass' chief executive is more cautious about the outlook for the remainder of this year, saying: "The fundamentals of the economic recovery remain uncertain and the temporary reduction in Cert funding is expected to continue through to the second half of 2010."

MacLeod is setting up a sales team to target the house-building sector – a new market for the firm – and has signed up new clients, including CBA, one of the UK's largest builders merchant buying groups, and insulation installer Miller Pattison, part of the London-listed SIG.