Moygashel slump drags profits at Lamont down


LEADING Northern Ireland linen weaver, Moygashel, owned by the amount Holdings textile group, collapsed into the red last year following the sudden ending of the Irish linen boom in the US fashion and clothing market.

The setback was disclosed by Lamont, alongside annual figures detailing a £3.6 million sterling decline in profits, before exceptional items and tax, to £7.1 million sterling.

Turnover fell £17 million to £125 million. Profits after exceptional items improved £600,000 to £97 million, including £4.14 million profits realised on the sale of the Connswater Shopping Centre developed through a joint venture" company.

Although detailed figures for Moygashel are not disclosed, the business is understood to have suffered modest losses last year compared with 1995 profits around £2 million.

Turnover fell £6 million to £21 million, with an £8 million decline in exports to the US market partly offset by increased sales to Britain and other markets.

Reduced levels of orders from retailers forced apparel manufacturers to cut back on their orders from Northern Ireland weavers.

Moves to restore Moygashel's fortunes include reduction of dependence on 100 per cent linen fabrics, mainly sold in the fashion retail market, by increasing output of cheaper blended linen fabrics.

Sir Desmond Lorimer, the chairman, who retires in June after having been closely associated with the company since 1973, commenting on prospects, said there were signs that efforts to improve marketing, product development, customer service and cost reduction, together with completion of a major £40 million, three year capital spending programme, "are paying off with improving trading and margins".

Although statistics indicate a every slow and reluctant recovery in the housing market, the recent reduction in interest rates may stimulate the market and revive consumer confidence.