NatEx’s ‘strong progress’
National Express has made ‘strong progress’ in the first half of the year, according to its latest financial figures. Group revenue was up 2.2% year-on-year to £960.2m (2014: £939.5m), whilst its UK bus business revenue grew to £141.4m (H1 2014: £137.7m). The operator said its record investment programme in bus operations and strong partnership with the local transport authority is delivering ‘real customer benefits’. It has grown commercial revenue by 3%, with concessionary revenues bringing the overall growth figure down to 2.6%. It continues to introduce new initiatives designed to enhance bus services in the West Midlands and has launched all 83 of its ‘Transforming Bus Travel 3’ (TBT) partnership commitments. As part of this, it has made a record level of investment of £34m in new vehicles.
During the period, National Express introduced new Crimson and Platinum buses. The Platinum buses have been introduced alongside local authority investment in bus priority lanes. It is already seeing 8% passenger growth on the first of these routes. In its report, the company said it welcomes the West Midlands ITA’s decision to establish a new ‘Bus Alliance’ to build on its partnership.
National Express’s UK coach operations increased revenue to £132.2m (H1 2014: £130.5m). The operator had experienced further benefits from its digital marketing programme and extension of retail partnerships. A 10% increase in revenue during the Easter and spring campaigns and a record Glastonbury performance helped drive up revenue and profit. During the period, the operator signed a new four year partnership deal with Royal Bank of Scotland, which launched in July with the RBS Young Person’s Coachcard. It has also enhanced its retail presence overseas by securing new airport outlets and has expanded its online presence through strategic partnerships such as thetrainline app. The business has continued to win new contracts intended to deliver incremental revenue in the second half. For example, it has secured its position at Stansted Airport following a five year contract award; won a new three year contract with British Airways to provide Heathrow staff bussing and inter-airport transfer services for both passengers and crew; as well as starting a ten year contract to provide inter-campus bus services for the University of West London.
National Express Group Chief Executive, Dean Finch, said, ‘We have made a strong start to 2015 and are on track to deliver the Board’s expectations for the year. We are focused on driving best value for our customers, employees and shareholders and are passionately committed to the communities we serve. These results demonstrate the benefit of our recent focus on both improving our services to customers and securing sustainable cash flows from our businesses. This enables us now to invest further in growth and at the same time, increase our dividend. We will continue to strive constantly to improve the value of the services we provide to our customers and deliver growth across the whole business. This, coupled with our contract wins, will continue to drive shareholder value.’