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Upper Crust owner SSP refutes "collapse" reports

22 April 2009 by
Upper Crust owner SSP refutes "collapse" reports

Travel concessions caterer SSP has played down reports that it is facing potential collapse unless it finds a way to restructure its debt.

An article in the Telegraph newspaper earlier this week stated that SSP, which was sold by Compass in 2006 to private equity firm EQT, had brought in investment bank Houlihan Lokey ahead of crunch talks with lenders over its £1b debt.

The article claimed the company and its private equity owner had been in talks with lenders, amid worries the group had taken on too much debt and could breach its banking covenants later this year.

However, in response SSP has issued a statement, which said: "We have recently kicked off a process with EQT and our bank syndicate to look at a recapitalisation of the business in the light of more challenging market conditions, particularly in the airport sector where passenger numbers are falling year on year in most international markets.

"This represents SSP and EQT proactively taking steps to ensure that the business has the appropriate capital structure to trade effectively through what might be a sustained recessionary period."

SSP said its backer EQT remained highly supportive of the business and confident of its long-term prospects.

The company said that last year it had delivered sales growth of 15% and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) in excess of £130m (up on 2007). Although sales in the year to date are up on last year, SSP said EBITDA was slightly down.

SSP owns brands such as Upper Crust, Caffè Ritazza as well as operating Burger King and Starbucks outlets under franchise.

SSP in debt talks >>
SSP's Altitude, Geneva Airport, Switzerland >>
Starbucks set to open more airport and train station outlets >>

Compass Group completes sale of roadside and travel catering businesses >>

By Chris Druce

E-mail your comments to Chris Druce here.

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