The Herald

Bridgend Hire hoists full-year earnings 52% to £493,000

- MARK SMITH DEPUTY BUSINESS EDITOR marks.smith@theherald.co.uk

BRIDGEND Hire, the Scottish equipment hire firm that last year acquired rival Leggat Plant, yesterday revealed a 52% surge in profits and said it was expecting business to boom over the next few years – even as the economy begins to drag.

Douglas Hill, a director at Glasgow-based Bridgend, yesterday told The Herald his company would “continue to look at other expansion opportunit­ies” and that he was currently in negotiatio­ns with “a couple of possible acquisitio­ns” in Scotland.

“I’m afraid it’s all top secret now, but we may have something to announce later in the year,” he said.

Bridgend,which employs 65 workers, f i l ed its latest accounts under special Companies Act provisions, which allow small companies to produce abbreviate­d financial statements, and revealed only retained profit of £333,143 in its financial year to the end of August 2007.

However, Hill told The Herald that the firm made a pre-tax profit of £493,000 during the period, compared with £325,000 the previous year. Turnover climbed to £1.9m, compared with £1.6m last time – although last financial year did not include a full contributi­on from Leggat, which Bridgend acquired last September.

In 2002, Barrhead plant hire boss Duncan Leggat hit the headlines after threatenin­g to quit Scotland and put his 47 employees on the dole in an unsuccessf­ul attempt to persuade MSPs not to ban fox-hunting.

Leggat’s firm, which is understood to have been acquired by Bridegend for around £2m,was founded as a building company by his greatgrand­father in 1863, and had been active in the plant hire market for years, specialisi­ng in providing cranes and lorries for builders.

Bridgend,which is owned by twins Brian and Edward Donaghy, has achieved rapid growth since it was establishe­d in 2003, allowing the brothers to diversify from their base in civil engineerin­g.

Asked yesterday if the firm was concerned about the anticipate­d economic slowdown, Hill said: “There is a slight slowdown in the housebuild­ing market, but that will be more than offset by opportunit­ies in civil engineerin­g.

“We expect to do quite well out of the M74 extension and Commonweal­th Games.There is also a large civil engineerin­g market opening up in Ayrshire.”

Hill added that in the last quarter the firm had invested £1.2m in three new cranes and that Bridgend “was quietly confident in the future”.

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