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Crashing losses in Poland hit Datrontech’s bottom line

Heads roll as debt soars and interest payments rocket

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Unexpected losses in Central Europe have been blamed for a breathtaking fall in profit at Datrontech. For the extended year ending 4 January, the company recorded a pre-tax profit of £2 million, compared with £6.1 million the year before. Turnover for the year stood at £248.8 million, slightly up on last year’s £220.5 million. The Datrontech Group saw its net debt rise from £8 million to £18.1 million year-on-year. Interest payments shot up from £940,000 for the year ending 31 December 1997, to £2.5 million. It has secured a £6.4 million loan with NatWest bank, spread over five years and has £23 million overdraft facilities in total with four different banks. Its Polish and Czech subsidiaries let the side down by turning in a combined loss of just under £2 million, which Datrontech chairman, Ray Way, described as “a huge disappointment.” The general manager and the financial controller of the Polish division have both now been replaced – discrepancies between the management accounts and reality were commented upon in the Datrontech statement. Way described his first year as Datrontech chairman as “eventful” but said the Group had experience strong sales in its networking businesses, which it was hoping to capitalise upon in 1999. Once heavily reliant upon memory distribution, Datrontech is now moving out of this market. In 1997 memory accounted for 32 per cent of Datrontech’s turnover. This fell to 13 per cent in 1998 and is expected to be less than seven per cent in 1999. ®

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