Finances

The Arora Company financial records are only available between from the beginning of 1932 up to the end of March 1955. In 1946 Messenger & Co., Ltd., changed their accounting year from January to December to November to October, as Arora was still only a department of Messenger’s they followed suit.

1931-1939

All the financial indicators, for years leading up to the beginning of World War Two, point to a firm in serious problems. Losses were recorded for five of the years, with the accumulated loss over that period amounting to £763 3s. 7d. Whilst the underlying gross profit on sales remained relatively constant at around 40 per cent, year-on-year, sales declined rapidly from £7,593 18s. 2d. in 1931 to only £2,859 12s. 6d. in 1938. Unsurprisingly the number of goods purchased showed a similar downward trend declining from a peak of £2,620 18s. 5d. in 1931 to a low of only £706 5s. 6d. in 1938.

The majority of outgoings show a gradual decrease over the period. Wages fell by a total of 56 per cent over the period from a 1931 high of £1,493 18s. 8d. Office salaries and expenses decreased from £328 2s. 5d. to £220 6s. 1d. It appears that Frederick Grogan’s salary had only increased marginally from that agreed when the firm was originally set-up. Travellers’, and agent’s salaries, commissions and expenses shows one of the highest falls down by over 90 per cent between 1931 and 1938. Advertising shows one of the greatest variations, similar to other outgoings the general trend is downwards. The amount spent on advertising in 1933 was around 65 per cent less than the previous year and around 60 per cent of the figure for 1934. The figure for 1939 is only about 20 per cent of that eight years earlier.

Despite making a small loss of £88 13s. 0d, in 1939, there are indications of a slight recovery; sales were up by over 25 per cent, with gross profits on sales standing at over 46 per cent. The amount spent on travellers’, and agent’s salaries, commissions and expenses was up over four-fold on the previous year but still only around 40 per cent of that spent in 1931.

1940-1946

The years between the beginning of 1940 and the end of 1946 show a remarkable turnaround the firm’s financial position. They recorded a profit for every year during the period ranging from £628 13s. 10d. in 1940 up to £1,549 9s. 4d. in 1945. Over the six and three-quarter year period[1], the average yearly profit more than £1,000.

Sales returned to levels last seen in early 1930s, whilst gross profits on sales ranged from 44 per cent to 55 per cent. Goods purchased almost trebled in 1941, before falling for the next four years, only to increase again in 1946. Year-end stock holdings also increased to above the previous nine-year period, averaging a little over £2,000 compared with less than £900.

Wages increased year-on-year from £968 9s. 5d. in 1940 to £1,562 16s. 11d. in 1946[2]. Office salaries and expenses also showed a gradual increase across the year, rising by around 50 per cent.

Rather surprisingly the amount spent on travellers’, and agent’s salaries, commissions and expenses showed quite a variation. Between 1939 and 1940 it dropped by 70 per cent, before rising to around £200 in 1941 and remaining around that level for the next three years before dropping down to £30 2s. 3d. in 1945 and only £6 1s. 4d. for the nine months up to 31st October 1946.

Prior to 1940, the amount spent on repairs averaged less than £5 per year, with a minimum of £0 5s. 6d. in 1935. In 1940 it reached an all-time low of 1s, rising to almost £20 in 1941. It varied over the next three years between £4 and £40, before showing am astronomical rise in 1945 to £137 6s. 0d. and an even larger rise to £312 14s. 10d. for the following nine months.

It appears that part of the factory was occupied by the Ministry of Works during the latter part of the War. For the years 1944 to 1946, the accounts show rental receipts from the Ministry of Works of £188 5s. 2d, £270 0s. 0d. and £113 5s. 9d, respectively. The Ministry also paid contributions of £150 and £190 towards the cost of heating in 1945 and 1946. This is against a relatively static figure in the low £200s, that Arora placed in their accounts to cover light, heat and power, between 1941 and 1946. In 1946, the firm also received £80, from the Ministry, to cover ‘dilapidation’.

1947-1955

Superficially the years between 1947 and 1955 appear to herald a return to the pre-war years, with the firm recording one profitable year in 1947. The accumulated loss over those eight years amounted to almost £11,000, with the largest single loss of £2,453 1s. 10d, occurring in 1950. These losses were against record sales, peaking in 1951 at almost reached £23,000. The average over the nine-year period was a little over £13,500, this compares with almost £7,000 between 1940 and 1946 and £5,000 between 1932 and 1939. Sales more than double over a two-year period between 1949 and 1951, before dropping away significantly in 1953.

The amount spent on purchased goods also shows several apparent anomalies; in 1949 it was only £2,902 0s. 10d. compared with £4,584 3s. 9d. the previous year and £4,718 15s. 0d. the subsequent year, with the peak of £9,057 2s. 0d. in 1951 matching the peak in sales. The low figure for 1949 does not correspond with any significant increase in the value of stock holdings for their previous year.

As would be anticipated, wages following a similar trend to that of sales, increasing to a peak of £7,176 6s. 11d, in 1951 before falling off again. They achieved this in several significant steps, increasing by more than 70 per cent between 1947 and 1948, followed by 40 per cent increases for the following two years. Office salaries and expenses showed a similar step increase between 1947 and 1948 of almost 100 per cent, followed by an increase almost 70 per cent the following year, before essentially levelling over the next five years.

With the increase in sales came the inevitable increase in office related costs. Printing, stationery, stamps, telegrams and telephone costs all increased, with similar trends to other costs. Carriage costs was another item that witnessed substantial changes, with an almost 200 per cent increase between 1947 and 1948, following by an almost 400 per cent increase between 1948 and 1951, before decreasing.

Advertising, travelling expenses and commission costs are another group that shed a little more light on what was going on. As one would expect, during the war years the amount spent on advertising was negligible, averaging around £15 per year, against a peak of £261 0s. 5d. in 1932. The amount spent on advertising in 1946 was £48 17s. 4d. an increase of £34 4s. 4d. over the previous year. However, in 1948 this rose to £316 2s. 5d. before falling for the next two years. It reached a height of £674 5s. 0d. in 1952 before falling away over the next three years. It appears that this advertising, at least from 1950 was all UK based, because at that time they ran a massive export advertising campaign, spending £627 18s. 7d. in 1950 and £712 6s. 2d. the following year, falling to under £200 per year for the next three years. The export drive is matched by a corresponding colossal leap in the amount spent on agents’ commissions. In 1948 the total amount spent on travellers’, and agent’s salaries, commissions and expenses was only £82 15s. 5d, which increased to over £400 the following year. However, in 1950, the amount spent of agents’ commissions was over £900, which increased to an enormous £2,200 in 1951, before falling back almost £950 in 1952. In 1952 and 1953 it was in the £600’s and even for the five months between the beginning of November 1954 and the end of March 1955 it was over £277.


References:

  1. 1946 figures are only to 31st October, when Messenger’s changed their accounting year.
  2. 9-month period.