Belfast Telegraph

EU uncertainty puts brake on Ultimate Products listing

Ultimate Products has put a decision on a potential sale or stock market listing on ice because of uncertainty surrounding the EU referendum.

Earlier this year, the company - which owns the Beldray brand and holds the licence to sell some Russell Hobbs products in the UK - appointed City broker Shore Capital to explore all options.

However, the Manchester-based firm's managing director Andy Gossage told the Press Association that it will now wait until after June 23.

"The Brexit vote has meant that we've held off on making a call. We're an importer, we buy our products in dollars, so the exchange rate is important to us. To have it bouncing around isn't helpful to us at all, so we've decided to wait and see what the outcome is - although we're under no pressure to raise money" he said.

Several experts, including Bank of England governor Mark Carney, have warned that the value of sterling could plummet in the event of a leave vote.

On Brexit, Mr Gossage added: "We still have a fragile economy, to subject it to years of uncertainty is masochistic."

Sources suggest that a sale or stock market listing could value the Ultimate at between £50 million and £60 million.

Despite the hold up, Ultimate said that half-year pre-tax profits rose 90.9% to £4.2 million.

Revenues grew 20.7% to £42 million, driven by the rise of discount retailers, which Ultimate supplies. The company, which also houses brands such as Salter, supplies the likes of Argos, Asda and B&M Bargains.

Operating profit rose 45.7% to £5.1 million.

The firm is forecast to notch up sales of up to £78 million for the full year and is targeting £100 million in turnover within the next three years.

Founder and chief executive Simon Showman said: "This has been another excellent six months for the company and we see the benefits of the strategy we announced at the end of 2013."

Ultimate also announced that it has taken a seven-year lease for a new warehouse.

Clive Black, head of research at Shore Capital, added: "Ultimate is going from strength to strength. The group's portfolio of great value, innovative goods for the home is resonating with more and more retailers in the UK and Europe.

"The investment in its state-of-the-art showroom in the heart of the Northern Powerhouse is also helping drive strong growth in competitive markets, contributing to an excellent financial performance in the first-half of its current year. The future looks bright."

Mr Showman added that the business will re-launch the Progress brand of kitchen products this year.

Founded in 1997 by Mr Showman and Barry Franks, Ultimate was previously backed by private equity firm LDC, which held a 46% stake.

However, LDC exited in 2014 via a management buy-out, with Showman now the majority shareholder.