ONE of Birmingham’s oldest manufacturers has posted improved full year turnover but warned that its markets remain challenging.

Jewellery and civic regalia firm Toye & Co said turnover for the year ended December 31, 2012 amounted to £8,936,996 compared to £7,981,006 for the previous year. The increase was due to the delivery of a contract to supply the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal in collaboration with two other Jewellery Quarter firms.

Trading conditions in the firm’s traditional markets continue to be difficult, it said. Worldwide economic conditions and social disturbances in some countries have impacted export sales.

Export revenue was £1,680,764, down compared to £1,870,949 the previous year. This was said to be due to the scheduling of deliveries on a large contract where the firm reverted to supply at maintenance levels having delivered the initial bulk quantities in 2011.

Nevertheless, the firm worked on some high profile projects during the year including one on the restoration of the Kremlin. This has been successfully completed and led to a follow-on contract.

Gross profits improved in the Fraternal and Metals segments, in textiles it fell slightly as customers demanded more competitive pricing.

The demands forced the firm to cut costs by implementing redundancies, cutting working hours, selling off several assets and looking at reducing loss-making lines.

Despite the difficulties, the company made a pre-tax profit of £453,872; the Diamond Jubilee contract being a key contributor to this.

Chief executive Fiona Toye said: “The on-going economic recession continues to influence all our markets in the UK and overseas. Buyers are cautious and lacking in confidence. They want the lowest possible price, but are slow to make the decision to order, which has resulted in reduced lead-times for manufacture.

“Customers’ demands are increasing in terms of pre-order design and sampling work, rightly setting the service of one supplier against another. This adds to our origination costs before we have even won an order.

“Even in our comparatively niche market areas there is increasing global competition. We are all vying for reduced custom. Success will depend on our ability to manage our operating costs and maintain and even expand our operating capabilities. Formidable challenges for a labour intensive traditional craft business.”