Davis Service managed to turn out decent half-year results, despite worries that demand for its hotel and workwear would come under pressure throughout the recession. Sales and profits held steady, and improved free cash flow helped the group reduce net debt by £64.5m.
Workwear performed well in the the UK and on the Continent even in the face of rising unemployment, although Davis admitted that the pace of growth in Europe had slowed as the economy deteriorated further. Demand from healthcare customers remained strong in both textiles and clinical solutions. The UK business reported 100 per cent retention rates, and was successful in cross-selling decontamination services. Meanwhile, the restructuring of the German healthcare division is on the way to delivering its targeted 4 per cent operating margin.