Speedy Hire says diversity of markets puts it in a good position to withstand a cooling economy.

Speedy Hire has increased its pre-tax profit by 12.4% to £23.8m for the year ended 31 March 2005.

The company also increased turnover - up 21.3% to £206.5 million - despite signs that the UK economy was beginning to cool.

Speedy Hire predicted that its diversity of customers would enable it to withstand any slowdown in the construction market. It said its strengths were the diversity of its customers, the increasing number of markets which it serves, its range of activities and its geographical spread.

Chairman David Wallis said:”At present our major customers remain extremely positive regarding the outlook for their businesses, reporting strong order books for significant periods of time into the future.”

“Should there be any material change we are well placed to act quickly and appropriately and these circumstances may present further consolidation opportunities.”

Speedy Hire said it would continue to open new depots in tool hire and equipment rental, saying that it was still under-represented in several major conurbations.

Wallis today announced the appointment of Peter Atkinson to the board, as an additional independent director. Atkinson is currently chief executive of Macfarlane Group, the packaging solutions firm.