RANGE-style cooker specialist AGA Rangemaster said today that pre-tax profits for 2012, excluding exceptional costs, would come in ahead of the previous year, despite “continuing headwinds”.

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Weak consumer demand in the home move and home improvements markets had left cooker revenues slightly lower, with overall revenues down 2% at the year-end as they had been at the half-year stage.

However, the company said the decline was primarily down to declines in Ireland and currency movements.

New arrangements with the group’s pension scheme and agreement on new banking lines finalised in late November would help the group position itself for growth, irrespective of tough domestic markets, with 2013 seeing continued cost reduction measures.

There was a net cash balance of more than £5million at the end of the year despite the a one-off deficit payment and contribution payments into the pension scheme totalling around £20m.

“Our great brands, tight cost control, product innovations and international market development programmes continue to sustain us against the headwind of weak housing transaction levels - for which prospects are now somewhat better,” said chief executive William McGrath.

“We will be investing in our key brands to make sure 2013 is a more progressive

year for the Group.”

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