NatEx trading ‘positive’
Trading has been ‘positive’ for National Express Group in the period from 1 January 2014 to date, according to its interim management statement, with Group revenue up 2%. All its UK divisions have delivered strong growth, supported by rising passenger demand. In its UK Bus division, like for like commercial revenue grew by 3%. Commercial passenger volume rose 3% too, which it believes reflects improved service delivery, with better punctuality and fewer complaints. Its West Midlands operation delivered a ‘significant improvement’ in customer satisfaction in the latest annual Passenger Focus survey of the UK bus industry. It has also increased sales in loyalty products, including travelcards and smartcards.
National Express’ UK Coach division achieved core express revenue growth of 9%, with passenger volume up 9%. The company claims fares are attractively priced, journey times are faster and punctuality has risen through its investment in network control and real time vehicle tracking. It has responded to recent rail disruption with additional services; the Cornwall to London route volume growing 40%. Volume over the important Easter holiday period was described as ‘excellent’, with revenue 14% higher year on year. The company is also building its contracting business, securing a new five year contract to provide airside services at Gatwick Airport. It continues to build its coach operations in Germany, with ‘excellent’ customer satisfaction ratings supporting growing passenger volume.
Group Chief Executive, Dean Finch, said, ‘We are on track to deliver the Board’s expectations for the year. We are also driving our strategy to develop opportunities in existing and new markets and I am particularly pleased by our progress in the UK, especially the increase in the number of passengers travelling with us. Our cash generation remains strong and I believe we have the right strategy in place to deliver substantial value for our shareholders.’