DAWSON’S LOSSES WIDEN FOR 1999

Byline: James Fallon

LONDON — Cashmere manufacturer Dawson International PLC Thursday said a year of restructuring resulted in losses after taxes and exceptional items of $87.7 million for the year ended Dec. 31, 1999. Sales of continuing operations increased 19 percent to $116.6 million.
This compares with losses after taxes and exceptional items of $41.4 million on sales of continuing operations of $97.9 million in 1998.
Dawson is one of the world’s largest suppliers of raw cashmere and cashmere yarn and also owns the cashmere knitwear brands Ballantyne and Barrie. In the last year it has divested itself of almost all its noncashmere operations, including the knitwear company Pringle, the thermal underwear brands J.E. Morgan and Duofold, Dawson Fur Fabrics and Blackwood Bros. yarns. The only remaining noncore operation is the yarn and fabric company Laidlaw & Fairgrieve, which is on the selling block.
The company said its cashmere operations performed well during the year, increasing operating profits before exceptional items to $6.8 million from $790,000. The improvement resulted from strong demand and rising prices, Paul Munn, Dawson’s chief executive, said in a statement.
The greater losses resulted from increased exceptional items of $74.1 million, of which only $316,000 related to Dawson’s core cashmere business as the result of the closing of one of its knitwear plants in Scotland. The remainder stemmed from the losses on the sale or termination of its noncore businesses. Included in the exceptional items was a $46.4 million charge for goodwill written off to reserves in past years, Dawson said.
Following the sale of its noncore businesses, it had net cash of $46.8 million at the end of 1999. It now plans to focus on increasing its market share in cashmere, cashmere yarns and knitwear and improving its profitability.

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