HSS cuts 300 jobs, 134 branches, in digital push

Manchester-based tool and equipment rental firm HSS Hire Group plc said on Thursday 300 jobs will be lost as it permanently closes 134 of its branches.

HSS Hire said the COVID-19 lockdown demonstrated that “we are now ready to accelerate our strategy by further investing in our technological platforms.”

HSS said revenue fell 22.1% to £125.8 million in the first-half period ended June 27, 2020, and its loss before tax widened to £12.9 million from a £7.4 million loss in the prior year.

However HSS said revenue was now above 90% of full year 2019 levels, recovering from 63% in the second quarter, and “the business is now operating above 90% of FY19 levels with 145 branches closed.”

The company said further investment is planned in its digital platforms “to be a more agile, technology-driven business and allow the business to reduce its physical footprint to a leaner branch structure.”

HSS added: “Consequently the company proposes to permanently close 134 of its branches and has entered into consultation with around 300 employees.”

HSS Hire Group CEO Steve Ashmore 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.

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

“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.”