First revenue up

FirstGroup reported a 5.1% rise in revenue for the six months ended 31 September 2016, with £2,564.7m earned (2015: £2,440.9m). The Group’s operating profit rose 0.7% from £88.4m to £89m.

Revenue in First’s UK bus division rose 2.9% in the first six months to £426.1m (2016: £437.5m). Adjusted operating profit amounted to £13.5m (2016: £15.4m), a 15.6% decrease. In the period it has seen ‘encouraging’ responses to its investments in mobile ticketing and marketing to students and young people in particular. However, it says the overall macroeconomic environment in the UK remains ‘very uncertain’.

Chief Executive, Tim O’Toole, said, ‘Our overall trading performance as outlined at the start of the financial year continued during the first half, with encouraging performances by our North American business partially offset by tough trading conditions for our UK bus and rail operations. In the second half we will benefit from our normal seasonal bias as well as our ongoing focus on executing our strategy. We continue to expect good progress for the Group in the current year, recognising we will likely benefit from currency tailwinds from our substantial North American operations but will also face uncertain economic conditions in the UK for the foreseeable future. Our cash performance in the first half affirms our confidence in generating significantly increased cash flow for the full year.’

‘I am shocked and saddened by the incident on Tramlink last week. On behalf of everyone at FirstGroup I would like to express our condolences to the bereaved families and friends and to those injured in this incident. We are working with TfL and the authorities to provide assistance in any way possible to those who have been affected and to the ongoing investigation.’

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