Skope exceeds $100m in revenue

ALAN WOOD
Last updated 08:04 14/08/2012

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Commercial refrigeration cabinet maker Skope Industries has pushed through the $100 million annual revenue mark for the first time and is reshaping for the future.

Earthquake damage at its Princess St, Addington premises means the manufacturer will look to spend many millions on reconfiguring and rebuilding parts of the factory site.

Family-owned Skope has already disclosed it will withdraw from the electric heating market from October, after being a household name in heaters for many years.

Managing director Guy Stewart said it was still early days in planning for quake repairs but the firm was committed to Christchurch.

During the year to June, Skope employed 191 new staff members, bringing the total to 406.

Stewart downplayed the high turnover for the firm, which he said was the second- largest private company in Christchurch.

It appeared staff had been lured by higher pay in the construction and demolition industry.

"We've lost some people but not a lot. We've lost people who've gone and done demolition work because they make more money."

Given the quake repairs, Christchurch would move into a period where there were huge skills shortages, Stewart warned.

Repairs to the quake-damaged parts of the Princess St site would be reconfigured as part of a wider plan to make a more streamlined manufacturing operation, he said.

Damage to the management offices became more apparent after the June 2011 earthquakes.

He and other team members had shifted to a floor space within the main factory, which had not been significantly damaged.

Ask about any need to raise capital, Stewart said: "Like lots of companies, we're finding an inherent need to build new buildings . . . because we've got a couple of buildings that need to be pulled down for whatever reason. We're looking at what we'll do in the future."

The company was still a long way away from making decisions about the rebuilding process, he said.

Stewart said there were no thoughts of taking the company public via a stock exchange listing, and the ownership through his parents Robert and Barbara and a family trust would remain.

Skope's revenues for the year to June 30 increased to $105m, from $94m in the prior financial year, Stewart told staff.

Ten years ago, revenues were in the $50m-$55m range.

"And our business has changed a lot. Fifty per cent of what we sell now is imported finished product," Stewart said.

"There were concerns at the time [imports started] that we would dilute what we manufactured here.

"[But] the goal has always been to keep manufacturing around the same and build the company, and we're achieving that."

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Stewart wouldn't disclose the company's bottom line except to say it remained profitable.

During the financial year it manufactured 14,000 refrigeration units and 16,100 heating units, importing an extra 38,300 heating and refrigeration units from business partners including China-based Haier.

Australia, the headquarters for one of its largest customers, ASX-listed Coca- Cola Amatil, remained the main export focus, though Skope was also looking to supply its refrigeration units to other international operations within the wider Coca- Cola organisation. The company was in talks and attending trade shows in the northern hemisphere.

- The Press

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