Northgate sees shares slip into reverse gear

 
Marion Dakers
VAN HIRE firm Northgate swung to a pre-tax loss of £11.4m in the year to the end of April, hit by restructuring costs and a tough time in its Spanish business, the FTSE 250 group said yesterday, as shares fell 3.8 per cent.

Excluding the cost of refinancing and shaking up its operations, Northgate said pre-tax profits were £49.5m, down 17 per cent. Revenues fell 13.7 per cent to £609.9m.

The company cut the number of vehicles in its fleet by more than 6,000 in the year, split evenly between its Spanish and UK businesses.

But it added that “poor operational control within our depots” had also made a dent in rental volumes.

“In the UK, the primary focus will be on growing the business through our existing network and by adding new sites, where opportunities exist at our target levels of return,” said chairman Bob Mackenzie, adding that the firm plans to open six to eight more sites in London this year.