London taxi-maker Manganese Bronze yesterday said a delay in securing the regulatory go-ahead for its Chinese joint venture would put back the start of full production by about three months.

The company, which employs 300 at its factory in Holyhead Road, Coventry, revealed the delay as it posted its annual figures.

Sales in the year to July 31 had risen by 27 per cent from 2,480 vehicles to 3,153, helped by the introduction last autumn of the latest TX4 version of the black cab.

This helped the firm increase sales from #83.8 million to #106.9 million, and pretax profits from #3.67 million to #4.042 million.

The firm also reported high levels of international interest in Shanghai-produced London Taxis, the product of its joint venture with Chinese carmaker Geely Automotive.

But chief executive John Russell said the company had not received the necessary approval for the tie-up with Geely until June, slightly later than it had hoped.

It means the production of a small number of prototype cabs would now occur around the middle of 2008, with full production beginning towards the end of the year, he said.

However, Mr Russell said there would be no material impact on the company's finances as a result.

"Whilst we always gave a fairly broad range of dates, June was at the back end of our estimates," Mr Russell said.

"This has moved us back about three months or so from the expectations of the market.

"We were hoping for approval earlier than that, but we now have a fully resourced plan and are fully confident of meeting the dates we've been talking about."

Manganese said it had identified a potential market for its cabs outside the UK of two million vehicles in the US, continental Europe

and China. It said it intended to serve that market from the Chinese joint venture.

Although it expects to make savings from sourcing more parts for its Coventry factory in the UK from China, it said it expects the workforce at Coventry to increase.

Manganese said strong take-up of its new TX4 cab launched in October, particularly in the UK market where new emissions standards in London have helped to lift demand, had helped it to boost sales and profits. Manganese described its results as second interims due to the realignment of its results with those of Geely.

It said there had been continued strong cash generation from operating activities of #12.2 million against #1.1 million previously and the company has net funds of #9.1 million compared with #2.6 million in the prior period. The group said it had an excellent year, helped by a successful move to a new expanded sales site in London and the appointment of new chief executive John Russell.