Helphire profits fall by £4m
Announcing its interim results for the six months ended on December 31, 2011, Helphire admitted that the trading environment in the credit hire industry continues to be ‘difficult’, adding that hire length continued the decline experienced in early 2011.
In terms of its own fleet, Helphire reported 7,786 vehicles on its fleet at December 31 and expects this volume to remain constant. It added that the average age of the fleet had been reduced to 11 months (down from 18 months at the same period in 2010), and it had broadened the manufacturer and model mix.
The average hire length is now 16.2 days, compared with 18.7 days for the year to June 30, 2011, and 19.2 days in the corresponding period last year. Helphire attributes the continuing decline to excess capacity in the vehicle repair market, resulting in shorter vehicle repair times.
Avril Palmer-Baunack, Chairman of Helphire, said: 'We operate in a highly competitive market that is currently experiencing exceptional commercial pressures as well as legal and political scrutiny, including the impending ban on referral fees in relation to personal injury cases and the Office of Fair Trading’s review of the effect of credit hire on insurance premiums.
'The effect of these pressures is uncertain and can be expected to lead to changes in the way the group’s business is conducted,' he added.
Helphire revealed that it is ‘actively considering’ its position in respect of Alternative Business Structures – new rules that allow non-solicitors to invest in legal firms for the first time.