Michelmersh Brick Holdings, whose handmade products go into prestige developments such as the St Pancras Eurostar terminal, shrugged off rising costs and a weakening market to achieve a healthy increase in interim pretax profits.
The company, which owns Blockleys at Telford, yesterday reported earnings of £208,000 for the six months to May 31 compared with £13,000 in the same period last year.
The improvement was made on the back of a 5.7 per cent increase in turnover to £9.2 million and gross margins six points ahead at 30 per cent.
The Hertfordshire-based group claims to the biggest producer of handmade specification bricks and clay paviors in Britain.
Operating highlights the half way stage included a two per cent increase in the number of products sold to
33.6 million and a five per cent increase in average prices.
The company said its margin improvement came from increased efficiencies which had offset higher energy costs.
Clay supplies have been secured for the foreseeable future with the signing of an option on a further eight acres of land at the Michelmersh plant in Hampshire.
The group has won planning consent for 6.5 acres of housing at its Telford site freed up by the redevelopment of the Blockley's plant and is considering options for a further 53 acres.
The asset will be revalued for the end-of-year balance sheet, the company said yesterday.
Commenting on the interim figures, chairman Eric Gadsden said: "These positive results reflect the success of both our strategy of investment and the strength of the business.
"We continue to seek ways of expanding the business, where we can see a clear correlation between an investment opportunity and benefits for the company.
" While demand for Michelmersh products remains strong, we remain cautiously optimistic that we can continue to perform well in a softening market place, marked by increasing energy costs."
Mr Gadsden went on to warn, however, that Michelmersh was not " completely immune" from rising costs and a softening market and this would be reflected in the annual results.
Also, the company said it was moving its accounting year-end from November 30 to December 31 with immediate effect.
The change would bring the business in line with industry annual price adjustments and ensure they synchronise with the cost base.
Michelmersh shares closed up 2.5 at 85p