First’s profit growth driven by bus and rail
First reports ‘very strong’ results in its latest half-yearly report.
In the 27 weeks to 30 September, the Group adjusted operating profit increased to £100.6m (H1 2023: £66.1m). The transport giant put this down to strong performance in both First Bus and First Rail. Its bus division delivered further margin expansion in the first half of its 2024 financial year to 7.1% from 4.8% in the first half of its 2023 financial year.
It had 1.1m passenger journeys a day during the period (H1 2023: 1m), with 84m service miles operated in the first half of its 2024 financial year (H1 2023: 87m). Passenger volumes (excluding the extra week in H1 2024) increased 8% compared to the first half of 2023.
Total revenue in its bus division increased to £504.9m (H1 2023: £427.7m), despite a £19m reduction in government funding.
Adjacent Services revenue increased to £116.2m from £65.0m in the first half of 2023. This was driven by First Travel Solutions, new contract wins and contribution of Airporter and Ensignbus acquired in FY 2023.
First Bus had 166 electric buses delivered in the first half of its 2024 financial year, with over 100 charger heads installed. It has also had solar panels installed at 25 depots.
“First Bus is delivering sustainable revenue growth as we continue to transform the business” – Chief Executive Officer, Graham Sutherland
Chief Executive Officer, Graham Sutherland, said: “I am pleased to report another set of very strong results for the first half of our 2024 financial year. First Bus is delivering sustainable revenue growth as we continue to transform the business and our First Rail division also performed well. This is testament to the capabilities and continued hard work of all our teams across the Group.
“We are a resilient and profitable business which is well-positioned to create long-term, value-accretive growth. Leveraging our leading positions in bus and rail, supported by our strong balance sheet enables us to continue to play a critical role in supporting governments’ economic, societal and environmental goals.”