The clothing manufacturer Dewhirst made pre-tax profits of £22 million in its first full year since going private.

The business, which is a major supplier to Marks and Spencer, quit the stock
exchange in the summer of 2001 in a £112.7 million management buy-out. It was led by chairman Tim Dewhirst.

Dewhirst's latest figures appear in the accounts of the Kirkgate Group - the
vehicle used in the company buy-out. Compared with Dewhirst's final full year as a stock market quoted company, they show little change, despite restructuring.

During the 12 months to January 2001, pre-tax profits were £22.3 million on sales of £400.2 million, compared to £22.8 million on sales of £407.3 million in the 12 months to January 2003.

The shareholders paid themselves a final dividend of £4 a preferred ordinary
share on top of an interim payment of £1.45. This was the same as the previous year and took total dividend payments to £1.69 million, leaving a post-tax retained profit of £13.7 million.

Dewhirst has moved the bulk of its production overseas to remain competitive, although 750 people are employed at a plant in Sunderland. It has other sites at Peterlee and South Wales, as well as offices in Driffield in Yorkshire and in London.

By Clive Hinchliffe.