OLDHAM-based consumer products specialist Ultimate Products, which relies heavily on manufacturing in China, says its operations have "broadly normalised" following the coronavirus outbreak.

In a trading update on the London Stock Exchange, the company based at Manor Mill in Chadderton, said 90 per cent of its factories in the Far East were back up to full production.

However, in the last 24 hours the firm said it had started to receive indications from a small but growing number of its customers in both the UK and Europe that they intend to review, defer or put on hold orders that have already been placed.

In addition, some customers are delaying intake into their warehouses as they reallocate storage space for food and household essentials.

A statement said: "As a result, the board is anticipating a significant drop in revenue in the second half of the 2020 financial year compared to expectations, which will inevitably impact profitability."

But it went on: "The board is confident that the business has sufficient financial strength to trade its way through the current disruption, which is expected to be temporary. The group has a strong balance sheet and maintains substantial levels of headroom, having recently extended its banking facilities with HSBC to 2024."

Underlying pre-tax profit for the six months to January 31 is expected to be £6.2million compared to £5.9 million in 2019.

Chief executive Simon Showman said:"The health and well-being of our employees is of paramount importance to Ultimate Products, and we are doing everything that we can to ensure that they are being given all the support and assistance that they require.

"The near-term challenges for Ultimate Products and the wider general merchandise sector are clear. However, we take confidence from the fact that Ultimate Products has proved itself time and time again to be a highly adaptable and resilient business, with extensive experience of navigating its way through challenging trading environments.

"As an example, the fact that over 90 per cent of our production in China is now back up and running having been closed during the outbreak there is a great endorsement of our ability to manage significant supply chain disruption.

"I would like to thank everyone at Ultimate Products for their tireless professionalism, dedication and loyalty."

The group intends to announce its interim financial results on April 30.

Ultimate Products is an owner, manager, designer and developer of a series of well-known brands focused on the home, selling to over 300 retailers across 38 countries.

It has six product categories: Audio; heating and cooling; housewares; laundry; luggage; and small domestic appliances. Its brands include Beldray (laundry, floor care, heating and cooling), Intempo (audio), Salter (kitchenware), Constellation (luggage), and Progress (cookware and bakeware).

The group's products are sold to a broad cross-section of both large national and international multi-channel retailers as well as smaller national retail chains, incorporating discount retailers, supermarkets, general retailers and online retailers. Its best-selling products include frying pans, mugs and speakers, selling approximately one million of each every year.

Founded in 1997, Ultimate Products is headquartered in Oldham, Greater Manchester, where it has design, sales, marketing, buying, quality assurance, support functions and warehouse facilities across two sites. Manor Mill, the group's head office, includes a spectacular 20,000 sq ft showroom that showcases each of its brands. In addition, the Group has an office and showroom in Guangzhou, China and in Cologne, Germany.

In total, Ultimate Products now employs more than 290 staff.