‘Another strong performance’ was recorded by National Express in the 12 months ending 31 December 2016, according to its latest financial results. Group revenue was £2.10bn during the period (2015: £1.75bn) a 10.6% increase. Group normalised operating profit was £219m (2015: £191.8m), representing a 4.8% rise.
Its UK Coach business grew in 2016, delivering a revenue increase of 0.6%, with profit up over 3% and what it describes as an industry leading margin of 11.8% (2015: 11.5%). Its operating profit in this segment was £33.3m (2015: £32.3m). It carried around an additional 25,000 customers on affected routes during the strikes on Southern rail and achieved record breaking days over the Christmas period where it both carried its highest ever number of passengers in a day and had two days where it took over £1m in revenue.
It believes its determination to be at the forefront of new technology adoption underpins this success in its UK Coach division. It has augmented its organic growth in its core network with ‘strategic expansion’ through acquisition in its Kings Ferry operation. Its takeover of Clarkes of London in December 2016 provides the opportunity to deliver expanded commuter services in to London while securing synergies with its existing operations. It also believes it will enable it to expand into the in-bound tourism market in which Clarkes has a ‘substantial presence’.
Its UK Bus division increased commercial revenue by 2%, but this was offset by the expected decline in concessionary income, to deliver overall revenue growth of only 0.1%. Normalised operating profit declined by 5.3%, with margins down to 12.4% (2015: 13.1%). Operating profit in this segment amounted to £35.5m (2015: £37.5m).
National Express Group Chief Executive, Dean Finch, said, ‘We have again delivered a strong set of results from our diversified group of international businesses and remain confident for our future prospects. Our focus on operational excellence is helping drive organic growth across the Group, and this is being complemented by significant returns from our recent acquisitions. We carried a record 921m passengers in 2016 and will continue to invest in new technology to deliver ever-improving services to our customers.’