Although revenue rose 18 percent for Tanfield, manufacturers of electric vans as well as UpRight and Snorkel aerial work platforms, the company went from a profit of £12.8 million to a loss of £88.5 million (about U.S. $130 million). Without including exceptional items — impairment of goodwill, intangibles, inventory and receivables — the company’s profit was £1.7 million in 2008.
Despite the loss, the company said its balance sheet remains strong and its outlook positive for the aerial equipment business.
“This has been a challenging year for the Group,” said Roy Stanley, Tanfield chairman. “However, we are a business that is lean, nimble and focused, with a highly experienced management team, which reacted promptly and decisively to the adverse market conditions. Tanfield is well placed to trade through the downturn and to move rapidly when its end markets improve.”
Stanley said that after a profitable first half of the year, the group encountered a downturn in its end markets in the second half of 2008. “The powered access division was impacted by the swift decline in the economy, which led to a blanket suspension of fleet replacement and expansion programs by major equipment rental companies along with the almost complete withdrawal of financing globally for new aerial work platforms,” Stanley said.
Darren Kell, UpRight chief executive, said decisive steps to downsize the business helped mitigate the risks presented by the downturn. “This prompt action means we can operate the business at a much lower break-even level than previously,” Kell said. “Changes in the conditions of our end markets are constantly monitored and we will take further actions if necessary.”
The company reduced its cost base by 30 percent, Kell said. He added that across the industry a significant oversupply of aerial work platforms remain, and that this condition will take time to work through.
“We are aggressively targeting the spare parts and refurbishment business, which is growing as owners seek to extend the working life of their aerial lifts,” he added. “Our focus on the end user market has proven invaluable during this challenging period, as has our strategy of developing a dedicated distribution network.”