Portmeirion partially reopens Stoke ceramics factory
Homewares company Portmeirion Group updated the market on its trading on Tuesday, confirming that it has partially reopened its Stoke-on-Trent ceramic factory as of 6 May.
The AIM-traded firm, which was holding its annual general meeting during the afternoon, had temporarily closed the plant in late March in response to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.
It said that since then, its teams had worked to implement new safe social distancing procedures in line with the government-issued “secure guidelines”.
The factory was now operating at a reduced capacity in order to fulfil existing export orders, with the board expecting to increase capacity in the coming weeks.
Portmeirion said its warehouses in the UK and the United States had continued to operate “safely and efficiently”, service its e-commerce business with no reported disruption.
The company said its UK home fragrance company, Wax Lyrical, had repurposed its production lines at the Cumbria factory, and had continued to produce hand sanitiser for the community, the NHS and pharmacies.
It said it was expecting to ship more than one million units during the second quarter of 2020.
“With retail stores around the world shut down since March due to Covid-19 lockdowns, our business has been significantly impacted and we expect this to continue through the second quarter until there is clarity around how and when stores will reopen,” the board said in its statement.
“We have continued to ship export orders to the Far East where retail stores have now reopened, and have seen a significant uplift in our online sales in the UK and US.
“Our own e-commerce site sales were up by more than 100% in April 2020 over the same period last year and we expect this trend to continue in the coming months.”
Portmeirion said it believed the “early and swift” action it took to minimise cash burn during the Covid-19 crisis would put the firm in a “strong position to thrive” once lockdown restrictions are lifted globally.
It said it was expecting its cash burn in the second quarter to be less than £1m and, as it had previously reported, its balance sheet remained “strong”, with sufficient committed bank facilities and headroom.
The board said it remained committed to maintaining a “sustainable and appropriate” level of dividend payments over the long term.
“Whilst we remain cautious about the immediate future we will reinstate our interim and final dividend payments as soon as we feel it prudent to do so, and will next provide an update in our interim results announcement.
“We have a robust strategy to leverage our powerful portfolio of homeware brands.
“Throughout the pandemic we have continued to focus on and progress our new product development pipeline and invest in growing our online sales channels.”
At 1538 BST, shares in Portmeirion Group were up 6.08% at 401p.