The UK-based BOC Group, which provides the food processing and glass packaging industries with gas services and related products on a global basis, has reported profits of £196.2 million for the six months ending 31 March, down 14 per cent on the same period last year.
BOC stated that its business interests in South Africa were affected by the weakness of the Rand against the strength of Sterling. It also stated that the decline in Group earnings reflected the comparison against a period a year ago that included peak profits in BOC Edwards, when the semiconductor sector was at the top of an investment cycle.
Operating profits in the remainder of the business increased by 10 per cent, with gains in every other business segment. The operating profit of Process Gas Solutions increased primarily as a result of continued improvements in business efficiency coupled with favourable pricing trends.
Group Chief Executive, Tony Isaac said, "Results were better in every part of the BOC Group apart from BOC Edwards, with a very satisfactory 10 per cent growth in operating profit in the remainder for the second quarter in succession. Our Process Gas Solutions business achieved a significant increase in operating profit primarily due to implementation of planned business efficiency programmes coupled with favourable pricing trends. Profit from Industrial and Special Products also increased - partly through cost containment and firm pricing but also with increased sales in the hospitality, medical and special products businesses."Serving two million customers in more than 50 countries, The BOC Group is one of the largest and most global of the world's leading gases companies. It employs nearly 43,000 people and had annual sales of nearly £4.2 billion in 2001.
Reuters says the new plant has a 3,600 ton/day crushing capacity.