Cargo pulls itself out of the red

Furniture and homewares retailer Cargo has pulled itself out of the red, as parent company Steinhoff revealed its ailing sister brand Harveys is showing the first signs of a recovery.

In figures filed at Companies House, pre-tax profits at Cargo for the year to June 30 were£776,000, up from a loss of£1.74 million on the previous year.

Despite a drop in sales to£33.8 million from£34.8 million, Steinhoff chief executive Ian Topping said he is bullish about the retailer’s future following its restructure and focus on cost control.

Topping revealed that troubled furniture brand Harveys, which was bought by South African manufacturing group Steinhoff in February, along with its Homestyle stablemates Bensons for Beds, Bed Sheds and Sleepmasters, has turned a corner.

Figures for the year to July 1, 2006 showed Harveys reported a loss of£10.4 million in challenging trading conditions.

Topping said a lot of effort has gone into sorting Harveys out. “The business is coming back now. There has been extensive product change, store rationalisation and a significant marketing push, which demonstrate our confidence in the brand,” he said.

Harveys will sponsor TV soap Coronation Street from next month, while Cargo will expand, taking 10 stores in the southeast of England.

The group has also seen several staff changes. Clive Gilbert, former retail operations director, has been promoted to managing director to work alongside chairman David Shaw.

Former Homestyle finance director Tim Kowalski has left after overseeing the transition and restructuring of the group. He has been replaced by Philip Diperink, who joins from within the Steinhoff group. Topping will remain as managing director of Harveys and has appointed Graham MacDonald buying and merchandising director.

Topping is confident about the group’s prospects. He said: “There is no doubt that the UK market for furniture is tough, particularly as there is a lot of competition. You have got to have a differentiated offer.”