DEMAND for blast-proof glass and panels that turn the sun's rays into electricity have helped drive up Romag's profits by 37 per cent.

The specialist glass maker, based in Consett, County Durham, reported a jump in half-year pretax profits to £586,000, up from £429,000 last year.

The increase has been driven by improved trading margins and increased sales of its security glass and its solar glass, known as PowerGlaz.

Sales of PowerGlaz, which converts light into electricity, have more than doubled to £1.15m in the six months to March, compared to £500,000 for the same time last year.

Chief executive Lyn Miles said Romag has followed its strategy to focus more on its security and PowerGlaz divisions and less on the architectural market.

"There is quite a bit of competition in the (architectural) market, it is volatile, and there is quite an influx of products from the Far East," she said.

"Our strength at Romag lies in our very specialist products."

The success of PowerGlaz has been driven by concern over climate change and energy prices and Ms Miles said the growth in sales is expected to continue in the future.

PowerGlaz is also likely to play an important role in London, where requirements now insist that all new commercial building projects will have the capability of generating ten per cent of their power from renewables.

Romag also manufactures a range of high-performance security glass, which is bullet and bomb resistant. Political unrest and an increase in crime has continued to accounted for a rise in sales.

The glass is used in Government buildings, embassies, police stations and jewellery stores and Romag tests its strength by using equipment that includes a cannon and a firing range.

Romag sells its products to customers around the globe, with exports accounting for 20 per cent of business. Strong growth in sales of PowerGlaz have been seen in Spain and Germany.

In the past six months, Romag has invested heavily in research and development, installing a new testing facility for security products and ploughing £1.5m into a new laminating line for architectural and security products.

The company is also looking to increase its 160-strong workforce steadily over the next few years and continue to invest in staff training.