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SSP Group reports improved third quarter as global travel gathers pace

Owner of the Caffè Ritazza and Upper Crust brands indicates ongoing travel recovery and says revenues remain on track to return to pre-Covid levels in 2024

An SSP Group operated Upper Crust store at Marylebone railway station in London, UK | Photo credit: Via Shutterstock



Global travel concession operator SSP Group has reported improved trading across its global operations as international travel continues to regain pace.

Reporting its third quarter results from 1 July to 30 September 2021, the company said revenues currently stood at 27% of 2019 levels. Fourth quarter revenues are expected to be 47%, with half year revenues anticipated to reach around 37% of 2019 levels.
 
SSP Group continues to benefit from increased passenger numbers across the travel sector, with revenue over the last week remained about half of pre-pandemic levels – an improvement on the 90% reduction it saw in June 2020.

In June 2021, the company reported half-year revenues of £256.7m ($363.8), down 78.9% compared the same period in its previous financial year.
 
However, in the third quarter of 2021 SSP signaled travel footfall continued to recover, with domestic and leisure travel, which makes up around 60% of group revenue, recovering more rapidly than international and business travel.

According to a press release, the travel concession operator has reopened 60% of its outlets globally, up from 30% at the end of the first half of 2021.
 
Continental Europe and North America experienced the strongest recovery in trade, with the fourth quarter revenues for the former region anticipated to be 53% of 2019 levels, driven by a surge in rail and air passenger numbers over the summer period.
 
In North America, revenue in the fourth quarter is expected to be 52% of 2019 levels, reflecting an ongoing recovery in domestic air travel.
 
Meanwhile, UK sales have continued to strengthen following the easing of lockdown restrictions in July. The increase has been led by the rail sector and is expected to be around 43% of 2019 levels in the fourth quarter.
 
However, SSP said the recovery has been less pronounced in markets with slower vaccine rollouts, including Australia and Thailand, where fourth quarter revenues are expected to be around 29% of 2019 levels.

Nevertheless, the company says it remains on track to return to pre-Covid levels of like-for-like revenue and EBITDA margins by 2024.
 
SSP Group operates around 2,800 outlets at 300 railway stations and 180 airports in 36 countries. It runs its own café brands, such as Caffè Ritazza, Upper Crust and Camden Food Co., in addition to licensed brands including Starbucks, Pret A Manger, and Burger King.
 
In July 2021, it was announced the company’s CEO, Simon Smith, will step down to pursue other opportunities at the end of 2021.

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