Royal Doulton on the mend


China group Royal Doulton has hailed 'the first clear financial evidence of recovery' as its company doctor, chairman Hamish Grossart, reported operating losses reduced from £18.5m to £14.7m last year.

The group, halfway through its four-year recovery programme, said it has stemmed the 20% decline in sales suffered in 1999 and has also cut costs sharply. Turnover for the year was 4% lower, at £183m, reflecting tough retail trading in Britain and America. There is no dividend.

Grossart said Royal Doulton has been trying out a new retail format in 10 of its stores, with encouraging results. This will be extended to around 60 outlets this year, 15% of the total.