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Expansion is no Accident

Accident Exchange, supplier of prestige courtesy cars to accident repair centres, aims to take on rival Helphire by extending its service into the mainstream credit hire business.

Founder and chief executive Steve Evans revealed the plan for 2006 as the company reported a rise in turnover from £4.1m pro forma to £21.7m in the year to April 30, its first full year as a quoted business.

“Our dealer customers are increasingly saying they do not want to give their main-stream business to our rivals,” says Evans. “So we’re looking at going head-to-head with Helphire.”

However, he wants to concentrate on winning further prestige credit hire business this financial year.

The business announced a new placing of 3.47m ordinary shares at 230p to raise £7.7m, which will enable it to continue expanding its fleet.

Accident Exchange has already grown its stock of cars from 250 to 1,029 in the last year, 85% of which are prestige brands such as BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar.

The company, which was awarded Specialist Accident Management Company of the Year by the Institute of Transport Management, also revealed a number of other developments.

It has recently sealed a deal with HR Owen subsidiaries Holland Park Ltd and Heathrow Ltd to purchase 110 vehicles this year, while providing credit hire and accident management services to customers of its BMW and Mini dealerships in Chelsea, Chiswick, Holland Park, Heathrow and Western Avenue.

A second contract with HR Owen’s Citygate Ltd subsidiary will result in the business providing courtesy cars for customers of its six Jaguar and Land Rover outlets. Accident Exchange has also been contracted to provide a similar service to The Cooper Group, part of Inchcape Retail, which has eight BMW dealerships in Surrey and Kent. That contract includes the purchase of 250 BMWs from The Cooper Group.

A white label offering has also been developed for dealers wishing to use their own brand.

“In the next 12 months I am confident that we will consolidate and grow our revenue opportunity and achieve an even more influential position in the marketplace,” says Evans. “We continue to negotiate a number of other significant contracts, which we expect to announce in the first half of the financial year."

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