London ‘black cab’ maker Manganese Bronze has reported a pretax loss GBP600,000 pounds for the first half of 2009, blaming the economic downturn for a sales slump.

The result compared with GBP1.5m pretax a year earlier. The firm said vehicle sales had fallen 11.5% and that it had halved its net debt to GBP3.6m.

“UK sales performance continues to be challenging as drivers’ confidence to commit to the purchase of a new taxi remains weak due to uncertainty about the general state of the economy,” Reuters quoted CEO John Russell as saying.

“We are now focused on fulfilling the international sales opportunities for [the core model taxi] TX4 and returning the UK operation to profitability,” Russell added.

The company said it would not pay an interim dividend.