35% increase in UK boosts Ashtead results

A 35% increase in UK sales at Ashtead Group in the year to 30 April 2021 helped the company report a 3% increase in revenues to £5.03 billion, with pre-tax profits down just 1% at £936 million.

The UK business, Sunbelt Rentals UK, benefitted from work with the Department of Health on pandemic-related activities, representing 29% of its total £635 million sales for the year. A large component of the 35% growth in the UK was sales of equipment, with rental-only revenues up 10%.

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Sales at Sunbelt Rentals in the US were 1% down to US$5.42 billion, with specialty rentals (such as pumps and power) up 13% and general equipment down 4%.

Acquisitions at Sunbelt’s Canadian operation helped grow sales by 14% to C$501 million for the year.

The year ended with a very strong quarter, with sales of £1.27 billion up 23% on the same period in 2020 and pre-tax profits more than doubling to £220 million.

350x250-588637-Brendan-Horgan-2017 Brendan Horgan, Chief Executive of Ashtead

The company halved its gross capital expenditure to £718 million last year but it plans to increase that to between £1.37 and £1.54 billion in the current financial year.

Ashtead’s chief executive, Brendan Horgan, said; “We returned to growth in the fourth quarter with rental revenue up 15% over last year and up 14% when compared with the fourth quarter of 2018/19, both at constant exchange rates.

“This completes a year of market outperformance across the business with full year rental revenue up 1% at constant exchange rates. I am extraordinarily proud of, and grateful to, all our dedicated team members who have made this possible, delivering for all our stakeholders, all while keeping our leading value of safety at the forefront of what we do.”

Horgan said the results illustrated the benefits of its strategy to diversify its end markets and strengthen its balance sheet; “The last year has proven the strength in our business model during a difficult period in the economic cycle, through responding in the manner we did to the challenges arising as a result of the pandemic.”

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