SSP Upper Crust

SSP saw commuter levels continue to climb as workers returned to offices

Shares at SSP Group soared higher today as the markets welcomed hopes of a sustained recovery at the food-to-go group following a prolonged battering throughout the pandemic.

Revenues soared 213% to £803.2m in the six months to 31 March as its Upper Crust, Ritazza and other brands welcomed back customers in increasing numbers at airports, train stations and motorway service stations around the world.

However, sales remained at just more than 60% of 2019 levels in its first half, improving to 83% in the first six weeks of the second half as commuter levels continued to climb as workers returned to offices.

The group also returned to profitability in the half, with underlying EBITDA of £14.7m, compared with a loss of £110.3m a year ago, and operating profits of £26m, compared with a loss of £220m.

At the pre-tax level, losses shrank to just £2.3m, down from £300m last year.

SSP said current expectations for second-half sales was about 80-85% of pre-Covid levels and full-year revenues to be in the region of £2bn to £2.1bn.

Shares in the group finished 7.1% higher at 252.5p today.

New CEO Patrick Coveney added the business was recovering well from “a hugely challenging period”.

“It has been immediately clear to me that I have joined a fantastic organisation that has done all of the right things during Covid-19 to protect the business, but, very importantly, is now taking the opportunity to strengthen the foundations of the business for the recovery.

“We anticipate a full recovery in leisure travel, which drives the majority of our business, and are confident that we are well positioned for the months and years ahead.”