System woes cost Royal Doulton $US19m

Royal Doulton announced on Wednesday that a problem with a new computer system has cost the British company nearly $US19 million in sales since the summer.

Yesterday, after the company alerted the London Stock Exchange of its loss, its stock fell 23% from $1.67 per share to $1.31.

A company spokeswoman denied reports that the problems were caused by the millennium bug, as had been reported in a British newspaper.

"We changed our computer system this fall to comply with Y2K, but we had problems with distribution in our warehouses because of the new software. The problems are more than we anticipated or allowed for," said Valerie Baynton, Royal Doulton's spokeswoman. "We made the statement because we felt we had an obligation to alert our stockholders."

Baynton declined to say what software was installed or discuss specifics of the problems but said the company hopes to gets its system on track and have the problems fixed by the end of this year.

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