MELKSHAM, England (Dec. 2)—Avon Rubber P.L.C. improved operating profits for the fiscal year ended Oct. 2, but exceptional charges related to a plant closing and other restructuring moves left the company $2.2 million in the red for the year. Sales fell 4.4 percent to $368 million, with most of the decline in the firm's European automotive business. Commenting on the future, Avon CEO Steve Willcox said the group is positioned to achieve growth in all core business areas thanks to a reduced cost base and group-wide product development initiatives. "We are confident that our strategy and actions will continue to translate into further enhancing shareholder value," he said.