11 May, 2004

Trading Update

The Board of Ashtead Group plc is pleased to provide the following update on trading performance during the year ended 30 April 2004 in advance of its preliminary results announcement.

In the United States, Sunbelt’s revenues grew by 4% in US dollars to $572 million (2003 - $547 million) whilst its average rental equipment utilisation for the year improved from 64.5% to 65.1%. In the fourth quarter, revenues grew 13% to $142 million (2003 - $126 million) whilst average utilisation (in what is seasonally a weaker quarter) improved from 57.5% in 2003 to 63.9% and market conditions continued to show gradual improvement.

In the UK, A-Plant’s revenues for the year reflected continued competitive market conditions and the effects of its reorganisation and closure programme, which was completed with the disposal of its Irish business in January. As a result, revenues for the year declined 12% to £156 million (2003 – £178 million). Rental equipment utilisation for the year was 59.9% (2003 - 60.7%). However, as previously reported, the reorganisation and closure programme and other cost control measures have generated annual cost savings which will offset most of the revenue loss. In the fourth quarter, A-Plant’s revenues declined 1% to £38 million compared to the equivalent quarter last year, when adjusted to exclude Ireland and the other businesses sold in the current year. However, utilisation in the fourth quarter increased to 63.6% (2003 - 59.6%).

Overall the Group’s sterling revenues for the year will reflect the impact of the US dollar. Taking the year as a whole, the dollar was 9% weaker in 2003/4 than in 2002/3. Reflecting this and the trading changes outlined above, Group revenues for the year were £500 million down 8% from £540 million a year earlier.