Perthshire plant hire giant gears up for further growth

31/01/2024
Morris Leslie (Founding Chairman)

ONE OF the UK’s leading suppliers of plant hire equipment is gearing up for further growth following strong financial results, posted in its 2022/23 annual accounts.

Perthshire-headquartered Morris Leslie Plant Hire, which sells and hires plant equipment, posted revenues of £49.121m in 2022/23, an increase of over 10% from the previous year figure of £44.4m. Profits before tax increased to £11.503m for 2022/23 (2021/22: £10.543m). Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) increased by 12.4% to £33.8m

Despite the challenging economic climate, not just in the UK but globally, the business has delivered an excellent set of results on the back of improved hire rates and increased utilisation levels coupled with a strong performance from the sales division both in the UK and overseas.

Investment for the financial year exceeded £75m, maintaining the business’s position as the largest and youngest low emission fuel efficient fleet in the UK.

The assets and business of Harborough Hire Centre was purchased in March 2023, increasing the branch network to 15 sites and further strengthening the company’s position in the Midlands.

The Morris Leslie Group overall, whose activities include the hire and sale of plant machinery and equipment, provision of self-storage facilities, as well as renting of commercial and residential properties and auction of vehicles, delivered turnover of £72.76m.

This was 1% ahead of the previous year (2021/22: £71.744m). Profits before tax are largely in line with the previous year at £12.444m (2021/22: £12.710m).

Trading has remained strong post financial year end, with plant hire and sales both continuing to perform well with the outlook remaining positive for 2024. As we progress through 2024, it is anticipated there will be a reduction in interest rates and lower levels of inflation, as well as improved consumer confidence.

The Group is also set to mark its 50th year of trading this year since the founding Chairman, Morris Leslie, started trading in used equipment sales in 1974.

Morris Leslie Group continues to support jobs in Scotland and across the UK, with over 300 staff operating across 19 sites.

Key highlights

JCB order

In March 2023, Morris Leslie Plant Hire placed an order for £87.5m worth of machines with JCB. The deal was the largest UK deal in JCB’s history and included over 1000 machines, including 50 JCB backhoe loaders. 

Morris Leslie Auctions

Morris Leslie Auctions continues to perform well despite delivery challenges in the supply of new cars which resulted in lower volumes of auction entries. Van and plant sales continued to improve year on year.

Commercial and residential property

Commercial and residential property, as well as self-storage revenue, remained strong throughout the year under review, with record occupancy levels continuing to be achieved and maintained within all property classes.

Tourism

Discussions are ongoing with the local authority regarding a £34m leisure-led project at West Kinfauns, delivering a variety of leisure and tourism elements incorporating a Park & Ride Facility. The full application was approved by councillors in December 2023 and granted, subject to conditions. It is unlikely we will see any development of the site during 2024 due to the significant rise in construction costs experienced since the application was lodged in 2022.

Graham Ogilvie, Morris Leslie Ltd Group Operations Director & Managing Director Morris Leslie Plant Hire Ltd, said:

“Despite challenging economic conditions, we are delighted to see these positive figures in our annual accounts which supports our continued investment in the expansion of the group. The investment in the Plant Hire business has allowed us to create the largest most modern fuel-efficient fleet of Tier V machines in the UK market.

“Our property and auction businesses are all trading well in challenging market conditions.

“We would like to thank those who continue to trust us with their business, and also our hard-working colleagues who continue to deliver a first-class service to our customers. As a Group, we look forward to 2024 which also marks our half-century of trading, with renewed confidence and determination as our global reputation continues to grow.”

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