Higher Crust proprietor SSP Group again on monitor after closures wipe out meals gross sales

The transport catering group behind the Ritazza and Higher Crust manufacturers reported indicators of a buying and selling enchancment however cautioned that it didn’t count on to return to pre-pandemic ranges till 2024.

SSP Group mentioned that gross sales for this month had been down 70 per cent on 2019 ranges. This was an enchancment on the 78 per cent fall reported within the second quarter, reflecting higher buying and selling in Britain and america. The variety of websites open had elevated from 32 per cent to 40 per cent.

It mentioned that money burn had moderated to £23 million, in contrast with earlier steering of £25 million to £30 million because it hammered away at prices, whereas liquidity was sturdy at £843 million after the latest £475 million fairness increase, its second of the pandemic.

Simon Smith, chief govt, mentioned that redundancies within the UK had been nearer to 4,000 than the 5,000 introduced final yr and that, in addition to beginning to carry again 2,800 furloughed workers, it was about to recruit between 300 and 500 workers. He mentioned that workers who had been made redundant had been being given first alternative to rejoin the corporate, though many had discovered different jobs.

SSP, as soon as a part of Compass Group, operates 2,700 shops at 180 airports and 300 railway stations in 35 nations. It operates its personal manufacturers comparable to Higher Crust and Camden Meals Co in addition to franchises together with Burger King and Starbucks. Within the half yr to the tip of March SSP reported a 78.8 per cent fall in revenues to £256.7 million, with like-for-like gross sales down 79 per cent. This was attributed to “materials reductions” in passenger numbers in airports and railway stations.

The group suffered a pre-tax lack of £299.7 million, in contrast with a lack of £34.3 million a yr earlier, and on an underlying foundation it swung from an working revenue of £1.3 million to a lack of £160.7 million. Its web debt rose from £692 million on the finish of September to £839.6 million.

The group mentioned that it had reopened an extra 250 shops because the finish of the half yr, lifting the overall quantity buying and selling to about 1,150.

Within the UK, SSP’s enterprise swung from an underlying revenue of £23.1 million to a lack of £37.8 million on revenues down 87.8 per cent at £45.6 million. It reported a latest enchancment in its rail enterprise, specifically, as prospects returned to trains for work and leisure, and gross sales final week had reached 75 per cent of 2019 ranges.

Smith mentioned that mainline stations in massive cities had been buying and selling effectively and that he anticipated many of the group’s rail shops to have reopened by the center of subsequent month. “It’s been a really powerful interval however we’ve obtained a superb grip on prices, we’ve obtained loads of liquidity, we’ve obtained a giant pipeline of recent enterprise to open and we proceed to spend money on ensuring we preserve a aggressive benefit,” he mentioned. Shares of SSP fell 5¾p, or 1.9 per cent, to shut at 302¼p.

Upper Crust owner SSP Group back on track after closures wipe out food sales