Helphire, the accident services supplier, reported a huge bounce in profits and a 69% increase in turnover for the year ended 31 March 2003.

Profit before tax was £5.3m, up from £191,000, after gross margins rose to 46% from 40% in 2002.

Total turnover for the year was £55.7m, up from £32.9m the year before.

Earnings per share figure was a record 6.3p, up from 1p the year before, as the business recovered from a series of court cases two years ago.

Credit car hire volumes were up 60%, although credit repair volumes showed lower growth, at 38%.

Group finance director David Lindsay said the difference was due to key insurer customers choosing to manage their own repairs while outsourcing car hire to the group.

Turnover from vehicle hire and other accident management services was £36.6m, up from £20.9m.

Turnover from vehicle repair was £19.2m, up from £12.1m.

Insurance brokers are the largest source of business for Helphire.

Chairman Michael J Symons said 45% of cases were referred by brokers, 20% from body repair shops and 35% from insurers.

The company bought a 60,000 square foot call centre in Bath for £13m and expects to spend £4.4m on refurbishment.

The building will increase call-handling capacity to 200,000 from 50,000 at the end of March.