June 20, 2024

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SSP Group bolstered by sustained recovery in air and rail travel

3 min read
  • SSP Group reported turnover climbed by 21.2% to £788m in the first quarter
  • The FTSE 250 company operates about 2,900 outlets across six continents

SSP Group revenues jumped at the end of 2023, as its travel hub operations were boosted by a continued rebound in air and railway travel.

The Upper Crust and Cafe Ritazza owner reported turnover climbed by 21.2 per cent at constant currency levels to £788million in the three months ending December.

Like-for-like sales increased by 14.3 per cent thanks to rising passenger numbers, while new contract wins boosted turnover by a further 6.9 per cent.

Growth: Upper Crust and Cafe Ritazza owner SSP Group reported turnover climbed by 21.2 per cent at constant currency levels to £788million in the three months ending December

Growth: Upper Crust and Cafe Ritazza owner SSP Group reported turnover climbed by 21.2 per cent at constant currency levels to £788million in the three months ending December

Trading surged across all regions, with sales in North America soaring by 30.5 per cent, partly due to the takeover of the Midfields concessions business.

SSP, which operates about 2,900 outlets across six continents, also achieved strong performances in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific markets.

Its revenue in the British Isles jumped by 22.5 per cent as airline demand sustained its post-pandemic recovery and workers commuted more often to their offices.

Britain’s railway network was less impacted by industrial action than in the previous year when the RMT and TSSA unions conducted strikes over the Christmas holidays.

The ASLEF train drivers’ union is currently staging a week-long overtime ban as part of a long-running dispute with the UK Government regarding pay and conditions, causing disruption to services nationwide.

SSP expects industrial action to persist during the current quarter in both the UK and Continental Europe.

But the FTSE 250 company said trading momentum had remained solid, supported by contract renewals and extensions, and new business wins in markets like Thailand, India and North America.

The group is also expanding its presence in Saudi Arabia, recently signing a deal with Jeddah Airport to operate 26 units for at least five to seven years, and just acquired Canada-based ECG Ventures, which ran sites at Edmonton and Calgary airports.

Patrick Coveney, chief executive of SSP Group, said: ‘Global demand for travel continues to grow, and we have a strong pipeline of secured new contracts around the world.

‘This, combined with our constantly improving customer proposition and our proven ability to mitigate inflationary pressures, means that we remain confident in our prospects.’

For the full year, SSP anticipates like-for-like sales to rise by 6 to 10 per cent, contract gains to bolster revenue ‘in the region of 5 per cent,’ and underlying operating profits of between £210million and £235million.

SSP Group shares were up 0.3 per cent at 226p on late Tuesday morning, although their value has still halved from its pre-pandemic levels.


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