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The political turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East has inevitably impacted severely on stock markets and commodity markets across the globe and this looks set to continue for some time. The escalation in oil prices will inhibit, if not overturn, the economic recovery in the US and Europe.

The UK recovery was already looking shaky as the estimated fall of 0.5% in GDP in the final quarter of 2010 was revised to a 0.6% decline, with construction output registering a 2.5% drop. There was little to surprise in that figure in view of the severe weather conditions at the end of the year. The big question is whether this is a temporary blip; unfortunately international factors may now suggest otherwise.


That is speculation. What definite information is to hand on the way hire companies performed at the end of last year? While HSS is not a quoted company, it is the No. 2 player in the market and, unlike most unquoted companies, it does publish its results very promptly and publicly. Its 2010 figures are impressive as full year revenues rose 15% to £171m. It is heartening to note that not only has the company achieved



Catherine Stratton discusses HSS’ impressive 2010 results, Speedy’s recent management statement and highlights the appointments of two women to senior board positions within publicly-quoted hirers.

double-digit growth in each quarter of 2010, but the final quarter saw the highest percentage growth rate at 19%.

There are encouraging signs that HSS can sustain this momentum. The hirer says that it has achieved significant growth in key accounts, which are up 25% on the previous year and now represent 30% of revenues. In particular, HSS has seen a growth in key accounts from its ‘target sectors’ such as FM, airports, retail and utilities. As it had already flagged in its third quarter results, the company has brought forward capital investment to support growth. It singles out its investment in powered access where it states it is now the second largest company in the ‘compact segment.’The company’s ‘LiveHire’ management system continues to expand with 8,500 customers now on the system and HSS Training recorded 54% expansion in the year, reflecting rapid organic growth, as well as the acquisition of Hydrex Training.

Chief Executive Chris Davies sums up HSS’ performance over last year. “We have focused on keeping costs low without compromising customer service. Equally as important, especially in such a difficult environment, is keeping cash flow strong. This has been achieved by improving gross cash flows, enabling an increase in capital expenditure over the prior year, ensuring the hire fleet is fully invested in line with current trading volumes. As a result we generated trading cash flows ahead £3m on the prior year of £18m.” 2011 has also started “solidly.”


February also saw Interim management statements from Speedy and Vp (both have financial years ending 31 March). Speedy told investors that its revenues in the three months to the end of last December rose 8.8% on the same period of 2009. This marks a reversal of the declining trend of the previous two quarters. This positive figure excludes ex-fleet sales, where revenue grew to £1.3m. January saw a more modest 2.2% advance, again excluding fleet equipment sales.

Speedy reported that it was continuing to make progress in the UK, singling out tools, lifting and survey as performing strongly with

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