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Sun July 03 2022

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HSS finally makes a profit

28 Apr For the first time since its 2015 stock market listing, HSS Hire Group has finally made a profit.

After radical surgery in 2020 and 2021, HSS managed to make a pre-tax profit £6.1m in 2021 on revenue up 21% to £303.3m (2020: £250.1m).

In previous years HSS had made losses of £23.6m (2020), £5.8m (2019), £4.5m (2018) and £85.2m (2017) and £17.4m (2016).

Chief executive Steve Ashmore joined HSS  in June 2017. After five years he has now delivered his first profit after reshaping the business. He closed 55 branches in his first year and another 134 in 2020, restructuring the business around larger hubs and introducing digital capability.

Until today, HSS has never posted a profit since Exponent Private Equity floated it on the London Stock Exchange in 2015, three years after buying it.

With the sale of Laois Hire Services in Ireland to Briggs Equipment for £9.5m in April and the HVAC business All Seasons Hire going to Cross Rental Services for £55m in September, 2021 also saw HSS net debt reduced from £120.4m to £45.4m.

Steve Ashmore said: "2021 was a year of significant progress for HSS with successful implementation of a number of transformational strategic projects. Trading returned to pre-pandemic levels, our EBITA margin almost doubled, and we delivered strong operating profit while significantly strengthening our balance sheet. This performance is testament to the effectiveness of our new, technology-led, capital light, low-cost operating model which provides us with the agility and flexibility to adapt and respond to changing market conditions.”

He continued: “In 2022 our focus will be to further invest in and enhance our digital capabilities, and we have a clear technology roadmap ahead of us which will be largely implemented by the end of the year. This technology provides an unparalleled, easy-to-use service, further differentiating us in the market and will be a key enabler of our continued profitable growth. Supporting this growth is our new structure based around two complementary divisions: HSS ProService and HSS Operations. By simplifying the business with one division wholly focused on sales and the other on service, we have further improved our efficiency and effectiveness.

“We have started 2022 well, carrying over the momentum achieved in 2021. We will continue to build on this and position ourselves as the most technologically advanced company with the most comprehensive customer offering in the sector."

“To summarise, the business is in great shape and, with a high performing team, leading technology, differentiated organisational structure and strong balance sheet, we have all the elements in place to begin a new chapter of sustainable growth. We have started this already and in the first quarter of 2022 revenue is 13% ahead of prior year.”

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