HSS sees big increase in digital business

By Murray Pollok07 May 2021

HSS Hire invested £3.3 million in its IT platforms in 2020 and saw a dramatic increase in business generated through digital channels, which accounted for 22% of final quarter sales in 2020 compared to 8% in the same period in 2019.

The company, which closed almost half of its UK locations last year as it created a new post-Covid operating model, is also building a network of partnerships with builders merchants and has 31 locations now up and running.

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The HSS network now comprises 40 locations focused on delivery of equipment, 45 “high footfall” HSS sites, plus the builders merchants partner locations.

HSS - which recently sold off its Laois Hire business in the Republic of Ireland - was severely impacted by the Covid pandemic, with 2020 revenues down 17.7% at £269.9 million, and EBITDA profits 26.4% lower at £47.0 million (although EBITDA on an IFRS 16 basis was £69.4 million.)

HSS said the changes in the operating model had resulted in £15 million of annualised cost savings.

It also reported a strong start to 2021, with like-for-like revenues similar to 2019 levels and EBITDA profit ahead of 2020 and 2019.

Steve Ashmore, CEO said; “During the course of the year, we took the decision to accelerate the implementation of our strategy. By increasing our focus on digital platforms, closing 134 of our branches, and partnering with builders merchants, we have been able to maintain national coverage while significantly reducing fixed costs.”

He said 2019 had been a year “unprecedented disruption. The onset of the pandemic had a significant impact across our markets but decisive action to preserve cash and adapt our business supported a strong recovery in the second half of the year with EBITDA ahead of 2019 levels in the final quarter.”

The company invested £19.0 million in its hire fleet in 2020 compared to £27.1 million in 2019.

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