Omicron bites SSP Group sales, but returning rail commuters lead recovery

Travel food and beverage operator says it is well-positioned for the important summer trading period if no further government trading restrictions are introduced

An SSP Group operated kiosk at Cologne Central Station, Germany | Photo credit: SSP Group



Returning rail commuters and an extended holiday season in autumn 2021 helped SSP Group ameliorate Omicron disruption in December.
 
Reporting its first quarter results from 1 October 2021 to 30 January 2022, SSP Group said revenues were around 62% of 2019 levels.
 
Rail sector stores led the group’s recovery in the latter part of 2021 as many workers returned to offices. Leisure traffic had also strengthened, the company said, with airport trading at 62% of 2019 levels after being boosted by an extended holiday season in the autumn across the UK, Continental Europe, and North America.
 
The spread of the Omicron variant around the world had, however, adversely impacted passenger numbers, with group sales in the eight weeks 6 December to 30 January at 57% of 2019 levels.
 
‘We are continuing to actively manage unit openings and closures in response to the fluctuating demand and currently have c. 1,950 units open, c. 72% of the estate, a similar number to that reported in early December with our preliminary results,’ the company wrote.
 
Looking to the year ahead, SSP said it was confident it could manage short-term trading volatility caused by the Omicron variant, with the company well-positioned for the important summer trading period if no further government trading restrictions were introduced.
 
SSP Group operates around 2,800 food and beverage 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.
 
Reporting its full-year results in December 2021, SSP Group said revenues were £834.2m ($1.1bn), down 41.8% on 2020 levels and 70.1% versus 2019.

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