A-Plant last week announced its fleet utilization reached an all-time high of 72 percent. Marketing director Asif Latief said much of the productivity increase came through internal changes in the depot structure.
According to Latief, a new inter-depot charging system has overcome resistance to machines moving from one depot to another, and salespeople now represent the group as a whole rather than a single depot.
The utilization increase helped push Q1 revenue to £52 million (about U.S. $105.7 million), an increase of 19 percent in isolation, or up by 6 percent if last year's earnings at Lux Traffic are included. In the past year, utilization has increased by 2 percent, the rental fleet has grown by 4 percent, and rental rates remain broadly unchanged, the company said.
Operating profit for A-Plant leapt 45 percent to £7 million (about U.S. $14.2 million) on a pro-forma basis (Lux's Q1 profit was £300,000 (U.S. $609,840) in 2006) to give an operating margin of 13.5 percent - up from 9.8 percent.
In the U.S., the integration of NationsRent has resulted in a Q1 revenue jump at Sunbelt of 66 percent to £193m (U.S. $392.3 million), although this is still 4-percent lower than the combined Q106 income of the two companies, as low margin sales of new equipment at NationsRent had been stopped. Operating profit, however, was up by a quarter on a pro-forma basis to £42m (U.S. $85.4 million).
Geoff Drabble, Ashtead Group CEO, said the outlook for its core non-residential construction markets in the U.K. and U.S. remains favorable.