THE firm behind iconic cast iron Aga cookers said a new “instant Aga” was poised to drive UK sales after a slow first half of the year.
The Aga Total Control – a cooker that looks like the original but is an electric equivalent controlled by a hi-tech touchscreen – has sold 300 models since its launch in May.
Aga Rangemaster said the new product, which can heat up in 22 minutes, compared with around six hours in the original design, is attracting a new audience and is key to raising overall sales back to 2007 levels.
The company, which also sells refrigerators and sinks, reported a 1.6% dip in sales to £121.4m in the six months to June 30 but it more than trebled operating profits to £2.9m.
William McGrath, chief executive at Aga Rangemaster, said the second half of the year should see the impact of the Aga Total Control gather pace.
He said: “The group is confident that it is well positioned to be a major beneficiary of any upturn in consumer confidence.”
Aga said 2011 “started brightly” but headwinds increased in the spring, leaving overall sales down.
Aga volumes were unchanged and overall cast iron sales volumes were down 7% in the period to 5,500 units. Rayburn and Stanley brands sales were “markedly lower”, notably in Ireland, the company said.
UK sales represented 61% of the total, Europe was 23% and North America and the rest of the world accounted for 16%.
The rise in operating profits was driven by an improved performance at its Aga Marvel and Fired Earth businesses where losses were reduced.
The group said it was integrating its cooker and refrigeration businesses in the UK and North America in a move to cut costs but warned higher input costs were an issue.