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HSS Hire to cut 300 jobs and close 134 branches amid COVID business revamp

Written by on 8 October 2020

Investment in new technology by tools rental firm HSS Hire will see 300 jobs cut and dozens of branches closed up and down the country.

The company said the COVID-19 outbreak has forced it to invest in its digital platforms, cutting out the need for many of its physical sites.

HSS Hire, which currently employs around 2,000 people in the UK, said it will close 134 of its branches and begin redundancy consultations on 300 jobs.

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The Manchester headquartered firm took a major hit to its finances as many building sites closed across the country during the nationwide lockdown earlier this year.

The company, which makes most of its money by renting tools to business customers, lost GBP12.5m in the first half of the year and saw revenues fall by 22% to GBP125.8m.

Steve Ashmore, who’s been chief executive since 2017, said the transformation at the company has now brought profitability back to pre-pandemic levels.

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He said: “While our strategic ambitions remain unchanged, COVID-19 has demonstrated that we are now ready to accelerate our strategy by further investing in our technological platforms.

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“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 London-listed company said it signed 30% of new contracts through its digital platform. Consequently, the company says it can now attract customers throughout the country without an increase in fixed costs for physical sites.

HSS Hire shares in 2020
Image:
Shares in the company rose by more than 4% today but remain down by 45% for the year

The pandemic has prompted businesses across the economy to embrace technology to survive.

Research by New Street Consulting Group showed 48% of FTSE100 companies worried about the failure to go fully digital as a key risk to their futures.

Separately, another report by the consultancy PwC showed that around 25% of the jobs in the construction sector could be lost to technology and automation by the mid 2030s.