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Briggs acquires Laois

Briggs Equipment Ireland has acquired Laois Hire Services - the HSS business in Ireland - for €11.2 million. At the same time it has acquired the Dublin depot of Balloo Hire, which was omitted from the original Balloo deal in 2019 - see: Balloo Hire acquired.

Briggs has been expanding its Irish operations through acquisitions in the north, using the Balloo Hire business which it took over in 2019 and adding Highway Plant a few months later. We understand that it has been working on this latest deal for almost a year with its completion coinciding with the end of the current HSS financial year.

HSS acquired Laois in 2005 for an estimated €5 million (see: HSS expands in Ireland) and today represents around four percent of HSS group revenues - roughly £12 to £14 million with a gross profit of €1.8 million and gross assets of €10.6 million. It operates from seven locations, all of them in the republic of Ireland. The business will continue to operate as Laois Hire Services, as will Balloo Hire Dublin.

HSS says that the proceeds from the sale will be used to invest in its core tool hire business in line with the group’s strategy. As part of the deal the two companies have signed a cross hire/re-rent agreement. HSS still has nine locations in Northern Ireland all of which trade as HSS.

HSS will report its full year results later this month and says that the year was in line with management expectations, adding: “The group has seen encouraging momentum during the first three months of 2021 and EBITDA for the period to April 3rd is comfortably ahead of the comparable prior year period.”

Chief executive, Steve Ashmore, said: “Over the last four years, we have made substantial progress against all three of our strategic priorities: to deliver the group, transform the tool hire business and strengthen our commercial proposition. During this time, we have transformed HSS to a modern, agile, technology driven business, improving trading, reducing cost and increasing the overall profitability of the group.”

“Today’s announcement is another step forward on our strategy, enabling us to increase focus on our core tool hire business. Laois has made a good contribution to the group over recent years, and I would like to thank the team for their commitment. I am very pleased that the business will be joining Briggs who recognise its value and whose expertise will help it reach its full potential. Given HSS’s existing partnership with Briggs, we will continue to provide our customers in the Republic of Ireland with all of their large plant requirements.”

Briggs managing director Peter Jones added: “We are delighted to have completed the acquisition of both Laois Hire and Balloo Hire. Both businesses have a strong track record of delivering value within the Irish plant hire market and we are confident that with the backing and support of the Briggs Equipment group, the businesses will go from strength to strength.”

"In recent years, we have worked hard to build our presence within Ireland’s materials handling sector and we have had good success in this area. These acquisitions enable us to further diversify our offering and provide a comprehensive and cohesive proposition that now includes plant hire across the entire island of Ireland.”

“Despite the challenges that the Coronavirus pandemic has presented over the past year, we are committed to pushing forward with our business development and acquisition strategy. This acquisition demonstrates the robustness of our business and our ongoing commitment to strengthening our market position.”

“We look forward to working closely with the teams at both Laois Hire and Balloo Hire and supporting their future growth and product expansion as part of the Briggs Equipment Group.”

Vertikal Comment

This move gives Briggs excellent coverage throughout Ireland with a couple of well known brands to trade under if it so desires. And for HSS, well it is almost certainly better off taking the funds and shoring up and rebuilding its business in the UK - which includes Northern Ireland.

Briggs is now a major force in equipment rental, including the aerial lift and telehandler markets, across the whole of Ireland.