National Express closing Transport Solutions depots

But no changes to Clarkes and The Kings Ferry brands ‘at present’

National Express is closing its two Transport Solutions depots in Sydenham and Gillingham.

Despite speculation, National Express says it is not proposing any changes to its The Kings Ferry and Clarkes brands ‘at present’. This comes despite the two brands being based at Gillingham and Sydenham respectively.

A spokesperson for National Express said: “We continually review the profitability of our portfolio to ensure we are set up to offer the very best products at the best prices in the market to our customers.

“To ensure we can operate efficiently, we have made the difficult decision to close our depots in Sydenham and Gillingham. We will be entering a consultation period with colleagues and we will do all we can to support them through this process.

“We will continue to operate corporate and private hire work from our strong and efficient network of depots across the UK.”

The National Express Transport Solutions business (NXTS) addresses the private hire and contract market. In National Express’ Trading Update for the period 1 July 2023 to 30 September 2023, it was announced the company’s new management team concluded the underlying profitability of the NXTS business (excluding rail strike impacts) is currently below the levels required to meet its return thresholds. It then announced its intention to close two of the five key NXTS depots.

The trading update said that in the UK, revenue grew by 13% on Q3 of 2022, with its scheduled coach business continuing to trade strongly, with revenues up 26% on Q3 of the prior year, and passenger growth of 24%.

Group revenue growth was up 10% year on year but it reports the path to improving profitability is impacted by higher costs, particularly in the UK and in North America School Bus markets.

The news of the depot closure follows National Express’ decision in July to close its Touromo holidays brand. It also follows the departure of UK and Germany CEO, Tom Stables and National Express West Midlands MD, David Bradford.

“We recognise that the recovery of our profitability will take longer than we had previously expected” – Ignacio Garat, Group Chief Executive

In the trading update, Ignacio Garat, Group Chief Executive, said: “We recognise that the recovery of our profitability will take longer than we had previously expected. That is why we are announcing decisive actions to ensure we deliver sustainable profitability from our growing revenue base. Whilst our belief in the potential of the Group remains strong, we will move at greater pace with new leadership teams in the UK and North America.”

National Express purchased Clarkes of London in 2016 and The Kings Ferry in 2007.

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