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CITY NEWS continued

revenues up 9.0% in the three months to 31 December, while the Power and Space operations continued to lag. Overall the UK hire operations saw the usual seasonal fall in the volume of equipment on hire as it dropped 6.2% from the quarter ending 30 September. However, the third consecutive quarter’s rise in average hire rates enabled quarter-on-quarter yields to improve by 3.9%.

Speedy’s International and Branded & Advisory Services businesses produced a combined turnover of £2.6m in the three month period. The company states that revenue growth in the final quarter should ‘reduce significantly their combined first half operating loss in the second half of the year.’ The statement was issued before the

problems in North Africa and the Middle East had spread so widely. Speedy’s International business is founded on its service agreement with Al Futtaim Carillion with operations centred on the UAE, which has remained peaceful. The statement indicates that Speedy as a whole should return to operating profit (before amortisation and exceptional items) in the second half of the year, following its operating loss of £4.6m in the first half, but this is dependent on ‘a continued strong finish to the year.’


Vp’s Interim management statement suggested that the company’s performance was steady, with overall demand little changed from its first half. It indicated that the severe weather conditions in December had a largely neutral impact on the business and that its full year results would be broadly in line with market expectations.

The issue of women directors (or the lack of them) has come to the fore of late, so it is good to see two of the quoted hire companies appointing women to senior board positions. Ishbel Macpherson became non- executive chairman of Speedy with effect from 1 January, taking over from David Wallis, who had been chairman since February 2001. She has been a member of the Board and Senior Independent Director since July 2007 and must be the first woman to chair a quoted company in this sector. Allison Bainbridge, who has just become Group Finance Director at Vp is surely also the first Finance Director. She was formerly Group Finance Director of Yorkshire Water.

The proposed joint bid by Ashtead and the Belgian company TVH for Lavendon was withdrawn in mid-January. The initial move appeared to indicate a will on Ashtead’s part to expand its UK operations - it is a long time since A-Plant made any substantial acquisitions - so it will be interesting to see if it makes any other approaches.

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