Asif Latief, A-Plant’s director of corporate communications, says he is very optimistic and excited about the opportunities open to his company over the next 12 months. As well as the optimism his job requires he also has some tangible goals, however.
“Our aim is for our turnover to grow 10 per cent per year for the next three years,” he explains. “With the market forecast to grow at only two to three per cent annually for plant and three to five per cent annually for tools that means we intend to take market share.”
Results released for the nine months to 31 January 2008 are certainly encouraging. Over this period the company’s revenues grew 14 per cent compared to the same nine months in the previous financial year to £159.7 million (although the growth rate is seven per cent when the performance of Lux Traffic, a 2006 acquisition, is incorporated into last year’s figures).
Even more significantly, operating profit has increased by half as much again in the nine months of the financial year so far, and soared 77 per cent in the last three months compared to the same period last year.
The extent to which the company is not prepared to sit on its laurels is underlined by its plans to invest another £80 million or so in its fleet this year. Then there was the recent £5.8 million acquisition of Norwest Holst’s accommodation fleet.
According to Mr Latief, A-Plant is also rearranging its depot structure and the size of these depots in a bid to improve both service and efficiency. “We want to continue the development of the ‘super sites’ that we began in 2007.
“We currently have 12 sites and are making progress towards another 15-18 of which we’re pretty confident we can open another seven in the next 12 months,” he continues.
The eventual goal is anything up to 50 of these super sites which are more than double the size of a conventional depot.
Big is beautiful
Mr Latief accepts that such a plan will inevitably mean closures in the existing depot network, but says the benefits outweigh any disadvantages.
“Yes this will mean depots in fewer locations but it will also mean better planned depots with more staff and more products as well as a wider product range. But we will always have depots where people can call in and see their mate Bill behind the counter,” he says.
Initial results from the super sites already in action have been positive, he adds. “They’ve helped with efficiencies and overall customer satisfaction. They’re not fussed where the stuff comes from as long as it arrives on time and works, and if there’s a problem you can call out someone reliable.”
This brings Mr Latief nicely to the final plank in the company’s plans for the year - to continue pushing its A-Plant guarantee.
“Offering this required a huge change in our business but really we just formalised what always used to happen if there was a problem, which was ‘go and speak to the depot manager’,” he concludes.