Fylde coast polymers firm sees sales rise but is wary about the effects of coronavirus in the future

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Fylde coast polymers specialist Victrex  has said it has had a solid start to the year but is warning of uncertainty ahead.

The plastics firm based at the former ICI site in Thornton posted its results for the half year ending March 31, 2020.

The firm which makes a variety of products for the aerospace, automotive, electronics, health and oil and gas industries said sales were up by four per cent on the same period in the previous year to £151.5m.

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However pre-tax profits edged down slightly from £50.2m to £49.9m.

Victrex at ThorntonVictrex at Thornton
Victrex at Thornton

The firm has not yet had to furlough staff at Thornton but as it is starting to see the effects of the coronavirus lockdown on some parts of its business, it has put a new £15m efficiency development at the site on hold until at least next year.

Chief Executive Jakob Sigurdsson said: “Overall, we delivered a solid first half which was in line with our expectations.

“We saw good growth in automotive and medical, a stable performance in aerospace, electronics and value added resellers, offset by the weaker performance in energy, as oil prices, rig count and activity levels reduced compared to the prior year.

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“Whilst the global demand picture remains highly uncertain, we will continue to position ourselves for the uptick, with further investments tailored to specific long-term growth opportunities.

“As part of our cash conservation and cost reduction measures in light of COVID-19, our £15m debottlenecking investment in the UK has now been deferred to 2021.

“However, with lower production already planned for this financial year and some special grade campaigns and new parts programmes ahead of revenue in the first half, we will continue to see some impact on margin from under-recovered overhead.

“Q3 to date has been broadly in line with our expectations, although we are now seeing emerging headwinds from COVID-19 in our forward order book, particularly in Aerospace and Automotive, with Energy already seeing very tough conditions.”