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Brandon 'will invest to grow UK coverage'

PLANT Hirer sees turnover rise 18 per cent in first-half results

BRANDON Hire is promising 'rapid growth' via a mixture of acquisitions and new openings as it seeks to improve its coverage.

The announcement came as the hirer posted an 18 per cent rise in turnover to £26.4 million in its half-year results to June 30.

Although pretax profit at the national tool hirer fell 20 per cent year on year to £1.67 million, chief executive Charles Skinner put the drop largely down to the expenditure necessary to build a national network.

A number of branches have been established, rather than focusing on short-term profit, to enable the firm to chase national deals.

Brandon's network has increased to 140 branches, representing a 40 per cent jump in two years.

He said: 'We are in good shape. Our rapid geographical expansion over the past 18 months has led to a short term drag on profitability.

'Also, our market for the first six months of the year was less buoyant than it had been for the equivalent period last year.

'It was quiet for us as it was quiet for our customers.' Trading has improved markedly in recent months, Mr Skinner said, with profitability 'appreciably higher year on year over the past three months and on the basis of current market conditions, prospects are encouraging'.

Brandon is looking to increase the number of branches in key areas such as the north of England and Scotland. The firm has acquired 10 branches since January for a total outlay of £2.5 million. The most recent was single-depot King's Lynn hirer Lynwood, bought for £250,000 to boost its East Anglian coverage.

Mr Skinner said there were several more companies in the firm's sights. He added: 'There are always a few potential acquisitions bubbling under.' The hirer has just tied up a preferred supplier deal with £600 million-turnover maintenance specialist Enterprise.

He said: 'The quality of our back off ice puts us in front of the rest, which is why we were selected by a company the size of Enterprise.'