Radiator manufacturer Rettig says trading conditions showed signs of picking up last year, but warned that over-capacity in its markets and cheaper import products remained a threat.
The firm, which operates its main UK manufacturing facility on Team Valley Trading Estate along with a distribution centre in Birtley, reported a return to profit of £788,000 in the year to December 31, 2013.
Following losses of £1.09m in 2012, the heating appliance specialists said it was combatting price sensitive demand for its wares by introducing new products to market.
Rettig’s director Martin Wright said he expected competition from Turkish importers to continue throughout 2014.
Writing in the company’s latest set of accounts, Mr Wright said: “Selling prices are expected to remain weak in the foreseeable future and the directors continue to focus on customer services and product development for sales growth, and cost management to sustain improvements in profitability.
“Relationships with key customers remain strong, and the company’s service offering continues at the very highest levels.
“Maintaining the company’s market leading position as a one-stop supplier is critical. Raw material costs showed continued stability during 2013 and into 2014, which eased cost down pressure, and the recent strengthening of Sterling currency against the Euro has reduced import costs.”
Mr Wright added: “Despite positive construction industry forecasts, particularly in the house building sector, 2014 is expected to be another tough year of trading.”
Turnover remained largely flat over the 12 month period, rising only slightly from £65.3m to £65.8m. The firm had marginally cut distribution costs and administrative expenses during the period.
Staffing levels were reduced over the year, falling from 331 employees in 2012 to 314 employees in 2014 - there were nine fewer sales and administration staff.
Rettig, which is part of the Rettig ICC (Indoor Climate Comfort) Group, is a manufacturer and distributor of steel panel radiators, as well as fan convectors. The firm also distributes other products within the Rettig Group umbrella including valves and controls, decorative radiators, towel rails and under floor heating systems.
The group is a Finnish family business which turned over €974m in its 2013 year and reported EBITDA of €132m.