First-half operating profit also grew by 23%, reaching £46.8m (2016: £37.9m).
A-Plant’s rental revenue was £182m, up 20% on the prior year (2016: £152m). This reflects increased fleet on rent, partially offset by yield.
Meanwhile parent company Ashtead continues to thrive, thanks to its North American equipment rental business Sunbelt making a US$539.4m first-half operating profit on revenue of $2,084m. Sunbelt received a boost from clean-up efforts following hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
Ashtead Group made pre-tax profit of £493.1m (2016: £413.3m) for the six month period on revenue of £1,899.1m (2016: £1,551.7m).
Chief executive Geoff Drabble said: “Our end markets remain strong and a wide range of metrics have shown consistent improvement. We continue to execute well on our strategy through a combination of organic growth and bolt-on acquisitions. We made significant investments in the period, spending £708m on capital expenditure and £298m on nine acquisitions.
“Our strong margins ensured that, despite these levels of investment, we remain comfortably within our target range for net debt to EBITDA of 1.5 to 2 times. As we execute our 2021 plan, we expect a number of years of good earnings growth and significant free cash flow generation. Given this outlook, we have the flexibility to be operating towards the upper end of the group's stated leverage range. We are therefore commencing a share buyback programme, of at least £500m and up to £1bn over the next 18 months.
“We continue to enjoy support from good end markets, a strong balance sheet and impressive operational execution. Whilst we would anticipate that activity levels would normalise during the second half, post hurricane clean-up, we expect full year results to be ahead of our prior expectations. Our strong performance, together with the successful execution of our 2021 plan, allows the board to continue to look to the medium term with confidence."