22 DECEMBER 1939, Page 32



THE ordinary general meeting of Mitchell Cons and Company, Limited, was held on December 20th in London. Mr. Alexander Hamilton (chairman and managing director) said that the trading profits were £113,411. The directors recom- mended a final dividend of 8 per cent., making a total of 12 per cent. for the year compared with t t per cent. paid last year. The carry forward would be increased by £2,604 to £38,024.

In their chief trading section, coal, they had had a successful year. At the outbreaic of war it was thought that there would be a very big demand in South Africa, but with the Mediter- ranean being re-opened, the demand for bunker coal had returned to about normal, and for the moment, in spite of a large enquiry, the export trade from Durban had suffered a little owing to the difficulty in securing tonnage. It was to be hoped, however, that that scarcity would be overcome before very long. Pending that being the position at Durban, they had turned their attention with some success to keeping some at least of their depots and customers supplied with coal of other origin.

Their London subsidiary steamship companies showed satis- factory results. The freight market had taken an unfavourable turn, and in the earlier part of the year profitable business was hard to find. It was expected that the measure of assistance promised by the Government would be put on the Statute-book without delay, but the Bill had not taken shape when war broke out. Both freight rates and running expenses had risen with the outbreak of war, and British shipping had come under close Government control. There was no possibility of British ship- owners making extravagant profits, and, indeed, one did not find any desire among them to take advantage of the country's necessity. On the other hand, there was a general realisation that shipping must be allowed to earn sufficient to cover deprecia- tion, a reasonable return and provision for replacement, and it was hoped that the negotiatio* which were at present proceeding between the industry and the Government would result in the establishment of a basis which would be satisfactory to all parties concerned.

The engineering section in South Africa had again produced good results, and their engineering works at Birmingham were now reaping the full benefit of the extensions and improvements, and at present were very busily employed on Government and other contracts.

The report was unanimously adopted.