Churchill China enjoys record year in 2019 – but warns business will be ‘undoubtedly impacted’ this year

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Pottery manufacturer Churchill China enjoyed record revenues and profits last year – but has already warned current year performance will be ‘undoubtedly impacted’ by COVID-19.

In a statement to the London Stock Exchange, the Stoke-on-Trent business outlined that revenues for December 31 rose to £67.5 million from £57.7 million in 2018.

Pre-tax profits also increased to £11.3 million from £8.8 million in 2018.

Over the past 12 months, the company has made a number of key acquisitions, including buying the Dudson brand from the collapsed pottery firm and taking full ownership of ceramics materials business Furlong Mills.

Churchill China bosses hailed 2019 a ‘record year’ for the business, but have now warned that current year performance will be ‘undoubtedbly impacted’ as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Alan McWalter, Chairman of Churchill China, said: “2019 was a very successful year, reinforcing the substantial progress made in developing and implementing long term growth strategies. Churchill has been repositioned as a business and offers innovative and differentiated products across a wide spread of markets.

“2020 had started well with performance ahead of our expectations and in other circumstances this would be the basis of a further improvement in performance. However, the as yet unknown impact of COVID-19 on our markets will undoubtedly have an impact on current year performance, particularly in the first half year.”

Mr McWalter added: “We have acted quickly to face the challenges presented by COVID-19 and the rapidly changing business environment.

“Churchill has prioritised the safety of its employees and other stakeholders and has acted quickly to ensure this.

“Our contingency planning process is underway based on the assessment of a number of business scenarios and we have begun to adjust our plans accordingly.

“Our exposure to the hospitality industry will undoubtedly impact our performance in the immediate future, but we have implemented appropriate actions to substantially reduce the cash cost of our operations in the short term.

“The current business climate is as uncertain as it has been for many years. Whilst the medium and long term effects of the present crisis are as yet unclear, Churchill is a well invested, resilient and highly responsive business led by an experienced management team.

“Churchill has in the past proved itself to be a well run and resilient business capable of dealing with significant external shocks. This reflects our strong, well resourced operations, our experienced management team and our long term approach to business.

“Whilst our immediate actions are focused on the short term, we believe that our core strategies remain sound and that we are well positioned to continue to prosper in the longer term.”

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