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Brandon to pick at in-house tool arms

PLANT

BRANDON Hire is planning to take advantage of contractors' focus on core business by snapping up their in-house tool operations.

The tool hirer posted pre-tax profits of £3 million, down 10 per cent on last year, but revenue was up 10 per cent to £33 million. The firm expects to bounce back by cutting costs.

Charles Skinner, the firm's chief executive, said: 'Last year was slow but steady and our customers seem to have a bit more going on now than they did last year.'

He added that in-house operations could provide rick pickings. 'Contractors will probably continue to run a bit of plant, but it makes little sense to run an in-house tool operation now.'

This pool, along with the falling acquisition price of independents, would shift the balance of power further towards the nationals, said Mr Skinner.

'The market will be dominated by the national networks and no more than half a dozen serious players. That will probably reduce again in time.

'Single branch outlets will serve the local market, but they will attract less and less interest from the bigger players.'

Mr Skinner added that bigger acquisitions could be funded if necessary. 'One of the benefits of being a public company is the money can always be made available.'

The Brandon Loadtite lifting gear business has grown in the two months since its acquisition he said. 'It's going fantastically well. We have bought four branches and expect to open three or four more this year.'