HSS Hire cuts 300 jobs as Covid boosts technology push

Tool rental company HSS Hire plans to axe about 300 jobs as it closes dozens of branches up and down the country.

The business said that it will invest more in technology, cutting out the need for many of its sites, meaning it could shut 134 branches.

As a result, about 300 people are likely to lose their jobs with the company, with consultations set to start.

HSS Hire employs more than 2,000 people across the UK, however only runs a couple of hundred branches.

“Covid-19 has demonstrated that we are now ready to accelerate our strategy by further investing in our technological platforms,” said chief executive Steve Ashmore.

“These investments will allow us to reduce our physical footprint which, whilst regrettably resulting in the loss of around 300 roles, allows us to become a more agile, technology-driven business which is essential in our markets, as well as reducing costs and enhancing shareholder value.”

The business makes most of its money by renting tools to business customers in the UK and Ireland, though a small proportion of its rentals are also used by private customers.

As many building sites closed across the country during the depths of lockdown, HSS took a major hit to its finances.

The company lost £12.5 million in the first half of the year, over £5 million more than last year, on revenue of £125.8 million, down 22%.

But revenue has bounced back from lows of 63% of last year’s levels during the second quarter to about 90% today, HSS said.

“Our recent investment in technology has proved critical, allowing us to support our customers during lockdown, our digital channels and click-and-collect service providing low-contact alternatives to branches,” Mr Ashmore said.

“As a result, we have now seen revenue return to above 90% of 2019 levels, with profitability back to pre-Covid-19 levels.”

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