PROFITS are up slightly at Crown Paints in Darwen, according to company bosses.

And the outlook for 2019 for one of the town's major employers is one of "modest growth", according to their results up until the end of last December.

Management at the Hollins Road plant say that the retail and trade paint markets in the UK remain "highly competitive",

Higher raw material costs through the year have resulted in price increases which have, in turn, generated a revenues rise of five per cent.

Gross margins for Crown Paints were recorded at 46.9 per cent, down from 49.2 per cent for 2017.

Operating profits however rose from 6.7 per cent to 6.9 per cent, over the same comparable periods.

And like a number of other major traders, directors at the 242-year-old firm have one eye on the impact of Brexit, coupled with the conventional retail, foreign exchange and credit risks.

Philip Cefai, a director, said in the annual report: "The directors recognise that the continued uncertainty caused by the UK decision to exit from the European Union has served to intensify those risks."

He has told investors that the board has sought mitigate the effects by diversifying their products portfolio, enabling a wider consumer spread.

Mr Cefai, who joined the board on May 20, along with Craig Ballantyne, said close attention had been paid to their supply chain, with possible alternatives, and any potential customs changes, so contingency plans could be brought into being as swiftly as possible.

He pledged that Crown, which also has a manufacturing site in Hull as well as an extensive network of home decorating centres, would continue to "invest heavily in the brand" over the coming months.

The company has paid dividends of £8million for the year, compared to £6.5million for the whole of 2017.

Mr Cefai added: "In line with economic forecasts, the company is expecting modest growth in 2019, but the directors believe that uncertainties in the retail landscape, together with increased competition and increasing raw material costs, will lead to another challenging year."