The chairman of Australian clothing company RM Williams Holdings Ltd, Ken Cowley, today told shareholders attending its annual general meeting that he expects the firm to get back in the black in the current financial year.

Mr Cowley explained that recent redevelopments and the imminent high-profile Year of the Outback promotional campaign should boost its bottom line.

"There are many initiatives an opportunities that will, during our redevelopment of the company, assist in its return to profitability in this financial year," he said.

"In 2002, the Year of the Outback will provide the company with unique promotional and marketing opportunities, and it is worth noting that our founder, Reg Williams, has been appointed patron of the year of the outback."

The company had earlier posted a disappointing annual net loss of $607,000, compared with its $2.56 million profit the year before, but Mr Cowley added that the firm had undertaken a stock reduction program to pre-Olympic stock levels, thereby strengthening its cash position.

"This review of product and raw materials has provided a base for the redeveloping of the company in the coming year," he said. "With the consequences of recent events throughout the world, economically and socially, we have been extremely diligent in our focus on ensuring our long term viability and profitability."