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Speedy def ines heavyside future

PLANT - Booming hire firm moves away from casual user market

SPEEDY Hire is to focus on supplying heavy users of equipment and will not be chasing small operators and casual business, for the present at least.

The firm made its declaration of intent as it posted strong growth at its annual results for the year to March 31.

Speedy's turnover rose 23 per cent to £254.3 million, while pre-tax profit was up 25 per cent to £30.7 million.

Like for like growth among depots owned for over two years was 9 per cent, which the firm said was three times the market average.

Chief executive Steve Corcoran said this concentration on larger firms would enable Speedy to focus its growth strategy on their needs, while avoiding lower-margin business.

He said: 'Just as with builders' merchants there is a heavyside and lightside, so we want to distinguish between light users and heavy users. One day we would probably look back into the small trader market, but for now we are concentrating on the heavy user who values hire. Unlike the automotive, aero or retail industries, there is not yet the appreciation of real-life costing throughout the construction industry.' Homing in on major customers would also allow the hirer to extend its range to include bigger equipment, he said.

'Within traditional plant hire there are areas we can look at. To us, anything with tracks, shovels, jibs or shackles is plant, which we don't want to be in, but anything else is acceptable.' Speedy's recognition of where it sits in the hire market also distinguishes it from competitors such as Wolseley/ Brandon and HSS, which are seen as aiming at smaller and shorter trades.

Chairman David Wallis said: 'This has been one of the most useful analyses we have done, showing us why we were right to pull out of going for Brandon.' It also gives the clearest indication yet of why Speedy is not likely to make a further play for HSS.

The firm is also integrating its back office business in a £10 million plan dubbed 'One Speedy'.

Mr Corcoran believed the nvestment will pay off in a huge potential increase in business through cross-selling among divisions.

He said: 'It will mean proper account management across the business and there is £100 million potential just by leveraging better the services within our existing customer base.' He added: 'There is £100 billion planned in PFI, PPP and DBFO.

'The financing may change, but the commitment to building generally doesn't. These projects will give 20-30 years from construction to management of the buildings.'