Charter profits up as welding unit recovers

Sales at engineering group Charter International have risen by a fifth in the past quarter compared to the same period in 2010 as its welding tools unit ESAB recovered sharply.

The figures reverse a profit warning Charter issued in June, when it said weakness in ESAB meant its full-year results would fall short of market expectations.

Charter said the improvement in trading had pushed its operating profits up 29.9 per cent in the third quarter to £34.8m, as sales revenue hit £497.7m.

The group, which has been bought by smaller US rival Colfax, said it had cut net debt by £17.7m to £137.6m in the quarter, while its turnaround plans to improve its performance were “progressing well”.

Its new chief executive, Gareth Rhys Williams, said ESAB‟s cost savings and working capital reductions were now “at least in line with expectations.”

“ESAB’s customer service in its key European welding consumables business has shown a marked improvement. At Howden, we continue to see strong order intake compared to the same period last year and impressive growth in the aftermarket,” he added.

Over the nine months to the end of September, revenue grew at a slightly lower 15 per cent rate, to £1.4bn, while adjusted operating profit rose 10.6 per cent to £110m.