Belfast Telegraph

Speedy Hire cheers brighter outlook for profits

The company said annual profits would beat expectations and come in “well ahead” of last year.

Tool rental firm Speedy Hire has upped its profits outlook after a cost-cutting drive helped it hammer out a better performance.

The company said annual profits would beat expectations and come in “well ahead” of last year, signalling a brighter outlook for the business, which has been dogged by profit warnings and a stand-off with an activist investor.

It said efforts to drive down the number of operating divisions and distribution centres would deliver overhead savings of £3 million a year.

Shares in Speedy Hire rose nearly 4% in morning trading on the London Stock Exchange.

Neil Wilson, ETX Capital’s senior market analyst, said: “Who’d run a tool hire company? Over the last couple of years it’s been nothing but profit warnings and a revolving door of CEOs at HSS and Speedy.

“Last month’s warning from HSS was the latest chapter in the saga. But today’s numbers for Speedy confirm that at least one firm’s turnaround strategy is working.”

Group revenues, stripping out disposals, are expected to climb 7.5% compared with 2016 thanks to a jump in services revenue, the company said.

Net debt also looks set to be shy of £70 million, down 18% on the year before.

Speedy Hire swung back into profit in May, with annual pre-tax profits reaching £14.4 million after a £57.6 million loss last year.

It followed a turbulent 2016 when the firm faced calls from majority stakeholder Toscafund to axe chairman Jan Astrand and push through a merger with rival HSS Hire.

However, the company brushed aside the calls, saying Mr Astrand had played a “key role” in its revival, while a tie-up with HSS would put its recovery in jeopardy.

Weekly Business Digest Newsletter

This week's business news headlines, directly to your inbox every Tuesday.