But despite turnover for the six months to October 31, 1998 climbing 54% to £163.8 million from £106.5 million for the same period in 1997, pre-tax profit slumped £850,000 from £1.85 million in 1997 to £1 million. Chairman Derek Cook said: 'The increase in turnover is almost entirely due to new sites. However, in the short term our expansion creates a significant adverse effect, as the new businesses struggle to establish themselves in a difficult trading environment.'
'While this result is a very disappointing one, the background against which it has been achieved is the existence of market conditions which have not been as severe for many years. The general economic outlook and lack of consumer confidence are major concerns. I cannot with certainty predict second half profits reaching the same levels as in the last trading year.'