NatEx’s ‘strong progress’
In its Interim Management Statement for the period from 1 July 2014 to date, National Express Group reported ‘strong progress’. Profit before tax in the third quarter was nearly 15% higher than the same period last year, progressively recovering the one-offs and currency translation impacts experienced in the first half of the year through the delivery of revenue growth, performance improvements and cost efficiencies. It said it is on target to meet its profit and cash expectations for the full year. Net debt at the end of September was £50m lower than in September 2013.
National Express said its UK Bus division performed strongly in the period. Commercial revenue grew by 4%, with concessionary revenues 3% higher and passenger numbers up 1% in the year to date. It said its partnership with Centro provides a stability that has delivered record rises in passenger satisfaction measured in recent Passenger Focus surveys, encouraging it to invest. It is to replace over 250 vehicles over the next 12 months. UK Bus has also increased sales of student travel products, implemented a JobCentre programme to assist job seekers and is growing its contract services.
In its UK Coach division, National Express saw core express passenger numbers rise 2% in the period. With last year’s major distribution wins now fully embedded, year to date core express revenue is up 5%. Building on a successful distribution partnership with the UK university admissions service, UCAS, it has added more university destinations.
UK Coach is also winning new contracts. It has signed a new distribution agreement with easyBus to utilise its core express services and is progressing a number of growth and contract opportunities in its airport business. The Kings Ferry has expanded its contract operations and is working closely with the UK Bus business to utilise spare capacity on contract wins.