SSP reports strong performance but UK business plans cautiously ahead of expected airline capacity cuts
Travel caterer SSP Group has reported revenue of £2.79b in its latest financial results, compared to £2.56b the previous year.
The group also reported like-for-like sales growth of 1.9%, driven by increasing passenger numbers particularly in the air sector, with underlying profit before tax of £203.2m, an increase of 10.2%.
The group's UK business reported revenue of £840.5m, an increase on £798.1m the previous year and comprising like-for-like sales growth of 2.4% and net contract gains of 2.9%, reflecting "solid growth" in the air sector and a slightly stronger performance from the rail sector. With ongoing political and economic uncertainty and the expectation of airline capacity cuts, most notably from the failure of Thomas Cook, the group said it "continues to plan cautiously", expecting like-for-like sales in the UK to be around 1%.
During the period the group acquired all of the Jamie Oliver units at Gatwick Airport and opened new M&S Simply Food units in two major London stations.
Chief executive Simon Smith said: "SSP has delivered another strong performance in 2019. Operating profit was up 12% at constant currency, driven by solid like-for-like sales growth despite some external headwinds, significant new contract openings and further operational improvements. We continue to grow our business in North America, and have made good progress expanding in Continental Europe…
"The new financial year has started in line with our expectations and, whilst a degree of uncertainty always exists around passenger numbers in the short-term, we continue to be well placed to benefit from the structural growth opportunities in our markets and to create value for our shareholders."
Looking ahead to 2020, the group said it expects to make further good progress overall and deliver "another year of significant expansion" with a similar level of operating margin.