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Katrina clean-up boosts Ashtead results

PLANT

ANGLO-American hire giant Ashtead has delivered a record set of results, with turnover up 22 per cent to £638 million on the back of strong US trading.

Pre-tax profit in the year to April 30 soared 154 per cent to £81.7 million as the group reaped the benefits of reducing its cost base.

At the same time, George Burnett, the chief executive announced he would step down from the post in September and retire in December.

He will be succeeded by Geoff Drabble, currently director at the security products division of Laird Group and a non-execut ive director at Ashtead.

Mr Burnett co-founded the business in 1984 with Peter Lewis when it was a £1 million turnover company. As chief executive he is credited with pulling the group from the brink of insolvency three years ago to its current record results.

Turnover at the American Sunbelt business soared by £105 million year on year to reach £461 million, with hurricane clear-up operations adding around £9 million to the coffers.

By contrast, turnover at the A-plant operation was up only marginally, rising 3 per cent to £160.7 million, but operating profit rose 47 per cent to £3.9 million.

This, said the firm, was testament to the restructuring of the sales force during the year.