No china crisis for Portmeirion as sales surge overseas

The maker of Spode and Royal Worcester ceramics has flagged a record year for sales after a surge in demand from overseas buyers.

Portmeirion said yesterday that strong growth in export markets such as North America and South Korea, accounting for about 70 per cent of its turnover, meant it was on course to significantly exceed profit forecasts in the current financial year.

The Stoke-based company, which bought the Royal Worcester and Spode brands out of administration last year, is also gearing up to meet an expected surge in demand for products to commemorate the royal wedding in April.

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Souvenirs in the Royal Worcester range are set to include fine bone china items finished in 22-carat gold that will sell for up to 400 a piece.

Chairman Dick Steele said the company hoped to sell hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of wedding-related products worldwide.

He added: "We are delighted that 2010 will be another record year for sales as we continue to capitalise on the Spode and Royal Worcester brands."

Portmeirion said sales in the second half of 2010 were significantly up on the same period last year and profits before exceptional items were also well ahead of expectations.

In particular, worldwide sales in the Spode and Royal Worcester brands have grown by more than 40 per cent on last year and will exceed the annual target of 12 million set at the time of their acquisition in April 2009.

Yesterday's upbeat trading statement follows a strong performance in the first half of 2010 when sales grew 24 per cent to 21m. In 2009, the Aim-listed manufacturer's sales increased 36 per cent to 43.2m with pre-tax profits up 164 per cent to 3.7m.

Freddie George, an analyst at Seymour Pierce, raised his 2010 profits forecast for the group from 4.5m to 5m.

Portmeirion will launch some 250 products in 2011.