Credit hire specialist Helphire expects to make a loss for the year to March 2001, despite assistance from insurers in recouping substantial outstanding debts.

Helphire claims to have recovered more than a quarter of its £101m book debt since its milestone agreement with insurers in December. That was when it accepted the ABI's terms on credit hire and signed agreements to recover 75% of its historic debt.

However, deputy chief executive Mark Jackson predicted: “We will probably make a loss for the full year, because we had to write off £45m of debt in the six months to September as part of our settlement with insurers.”

The company made a half-year loss before tax of £48m.

As a result of its continuing troubles, the company's employee numbers have fallen from a peak of 801 in June 2000, to 512. This has reduced its payroll costs by £250,000 per month.

Helphire has also closed its 1st Automotive subsidiary, which it acquired in August 1999, and relocated its offices from Altrincham to its head office in Bath. Some of 1st Automotive's 50 staff have been made redundant.

Despite having to restructure, Jackson said the company had no intention of diversifying into other areas, for example personal injury case management.

He said the company was planning to launch a new post-accident motor product for brokers in the next few weeks.