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Bodyshop news: Helphire ‘on target’ to hit forecasts

Helphire credit cases have risen by a quarter compared to the same period last year.

Despite slowed growth compared to the last six months of 2007, Helphire said it was confident that profit for the year to June 30 2008 will be in line with market forecasts.

It attributed its growth to overall market growth as well as new agreements with referrers of business, including insurers, dealer groups and bodyshops.

Mark Jackson, Helphire chief executive, said the company has continued to focus on accelerating the claims settlement process.

As a result, the company cut its weighted average age of debt by 8% to 248 days in the first three months of 2008.

However, net debt, excluding £200 million of fleet-related financing, was up almost £10 million to £161 million from December 2007.

An industry analyst said that continued growth relied on how Helphire manages its debtors: “Getting money from insurers is going to be challenging because they want to keep money for as long as possible before paying out.”

He added that operating profit would be a key issue in the firm’s 2008 results.

The company said its principal challenge was to continue to grow the market in an increasingly profitable and cash-generative manner.

To do this, it was introducing a number of operational measures including a new claims handling system, Expedite and a new fleet management system, TRYX.

Repair cases also increased by 29% in the first quarter of this year while GTA rates will increase by 3.5% for new hires starting from June 1, 2008.

After a six-month search, Mark Adams has been appointed as Helphire’s finance director. He previously held the same position at Alpha Airports Group.

His appointment allows David Lindsay and David Robertson to take up roles as operations director and commercial director respectively.

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