We’re safe. The financial crisis has been averted. Things are on the mend. We have looked over the abyss and seen the horrors below. Now we can step back from the edge.
The reason for our optimism? No, not a new set of GDP figures, or great purchasing manager stats, but one of the best indicators of all: sales of AGAs are on the way back up.
The AGA is the quintessential symbol of domestic bliss, a solid lump of metal which, like the White Cliffs of Dover, puts the Great into Great Britain. It may provide Beatrix Potter modelled kitchens with their intrinsic warmth and cosiness, but it is not cheap. A basic model will set you back a few grand and when times are hard, AGA sales can freefall like an enthusiastic base jumper looking for the next thrill.
But at the recent AGA Rangemaster Group plc AGM came the news we all had been waiting for. Chairman John Coleman told his investors: “2013 was a year in which the tide turned in our core markets. There was increased activity in the UK housing market, where mortgage approvals rose sharply in the second half. This started to feed through slowly into increased UK household expenditure on cookers, although the increase was still just 1%.
“We were therefore pleased that revenues rose by over 4% in the second half and by 2.4% in the year as a whole. Operating profits in the year rose to £8.2 million from £6.5 million in 2012. Our new product introductions combined with the continued rationalisation programmes drove the profit improvement.
“At the start of 2014 we have seen revenues rise faster than in the second half of last year and that momentum continues in the order intake.”
So, great news then.