Tool and equipment hirer HSS is set to close 134 branches leading to the loss of 300 jobs as the Covid-19 crisis poses ‘unprecedented challenges’
The tool and equipment hirer revealed turnover fell to £125.8m from £161.4m in the first half of 2020.
It also made a pre-tax loss of £12.9m compared to a £7.9m loss the previous year.
As a consequence, the group has proposed to permanently close 134 of its branches and is entering into consultation with around 300 colleagues.
Creating an ‘advanced, customer-centric offer’
Steve Ashmore, chief executive officer of HSS, said: “Our primary concern since the outbreak of Covid-19 has been the safety and wellbeing of our colleagues, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders.
“We responded quickly and decisively to preserve cash, optimise financial performance and ensure continuity of supply to our customers. I am incredibly proud of all our employees for their dedicated hard work in helping do this.
“Whilst Covid-19 had a significant impact on our performance in the first six months, I am encouraged by the resilience of HSS during a very challenging period.
“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.
“As a result, we have now seen revenue return to above 90% of 2019 levels with profitability back to pre-Covid-19 levels.”
Ashmore added: “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.
“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.
“This will build on our already differentiated commercial proposition and create the most advanced, customer-centric offer in an increasingly competitive marketplace.”