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Hewden's exchange rate blow

FINANCE

THE STRENGTH of the pound against the Canadian dollar sent earnings at plant hirer Hewden Stuart into reverse last year.

Hewden Stuart turned over £297.1 million in 2005 and earned £25.1 million before interest and tax but the return to Canadian owner Finning was down 5.6 per cent, owing to the strong pound.

Brian Sherlock, managing director at Hewden, which is spending £13.8 million on new IT, said: 'We expect to see bottom line benefits from related improvements in utilisation of capital assets and management information.' Earnings before interest and tax at Finning's own UK operations halved to £8.8 million on turnover of £560 million.

Finning president Doug Whitehead said: 'Improving the performance of our UK operations is our priority.'