According to a survey released today by business information company Experian, the textile sector is one of the few industries to see any growth in profitability over the latest quarter.

Overall, Experian said the profitability of UK companies, as measured by return on capital, fell to 8.37 per cent in the first quarter of this year from 9.05 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2001, and from 10.84 per cent in the first quarter of 2000.

"The decline in corporate profitability is across the board, affecting industries serving both domestic and export markets," said the report's author, Peter Brooker.

However, "the continuing paradox is that while business is suffering, consumers remain confident, which has enabled the UK economy to keep growing in 2001 and into 2002, while much of the world flirted with recession," Brooker added.