Pre-tax profits fall at Northgate

White van hire group Northgate said yesterday its profit before tax for the six months to 31 October were £28.1m – down 13 per cent on last year’s figure of £32.3m. But the firm, often viewed as a bellwether for activity among small businesses, said it had continued to grow despite the challenging trading, with a plan to open more branches firmly on track. Northgate has lowered its net debt from £371.3m at 30 April 2012 to £343.2m at 31 October.