Ashtead Group said it was trading ahead of its full year expectations and was confident of the medium term outlook as it reported a 17% rise in revenues and a 16% rise in pre-tax profits for the quarter ending 31 October.

Growth in the quarter came from Ashtead’s North American business, Sunbelt Rentals, which increased revenues by 20% to £1,024.8 million in the USA. A-Plant, Ashtead’s UK business, saw sales almost steady year-on-year at £111.1 million for the quarter.

Ashtead group

Much of the rise in the US over the six months to 31 October was driven by organic growth and new depots, with 63 stores opened from May to October. Half of these have been specialty rental locations.

In the UK, A-Plant’s half-year rental revenues were up 5%, driven by having more equipment on rent but partially offset by lower prices, which Ashtead said reflected the competitive rate environment in the UK.

Total revenues for the quarter were £1,113.5 million, with pre-tax profits at £347.8 million.

Ashtead’s chief executive, Geoff Drabble, commenting on the results for the half year, said; “The Group delivered a strong quarter with good performance across the Group. As a result, Group rental revenue increased 18% for the six months and underlying pre-tax profit increased 19% to £633m, both at constant exchange rates.

“We have invested £1,063 million in capital and a further £362 million on bolt-on acquisitions in the period, which has added 80 locations and resulted in a rental fleet growth of 15%. This investment reflects the structural growth opportunity that we continue to see in the business as we broaden our product offering and geographic reach, and increase market share.”

He added; “Our business is performing well in supportive end markets. Accordingly, we expect full year results to be ahead of our prior expectations and the Board continues to look to the medium term with confidence.”

Ashtead recently announced that Geoff Drabble would step down as CEO on 1 May next year, to be succeeded by Brendan Horgan, group COO and Chief Executive at Sunbelt.

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