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Managing to survive a downturn: Doug Sprout, director, Hewden

“The Government’s announcement that it would pull forward public spending is welcome as this will bring more activity in education and health projects.

“There are also many decentsized local construction projects still going ahead and we are doing more to put our local depots at the heart of Hewden, delivering a quick, co-ordinated response to local customers.

“Customer service really continues to be a key element of success in this climate.”

“With the current squeeze on bank lending, access to finance is critical and we may see some uplift in hire as people who would normally buy delay doing so. Having said that, equipment manufacturers are offering some attractive finance rates to buyers.

“We are still investing in our hire fleet, customers know the latest equipment is more fuel efficient and reliable.”

“Financial strength will be an important factor in the plant market as companies have to change their business to adapt to more difficult times and cope with the challenge of collecting cash.

“It is tempting to cut spending in the areas of safety, quality and environmental performance when times are tough – but that is a mistake. Customers know that a strong health and safety stance is not optional.”