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European leisure travel drives surging revenues for SSP Group

The travel food and beverage operator says revenues and business activity continue to rebound following the pandemic as an uplift in leisure travel boosts sales in Continental Europe and North America

A SSP Group-operated Starbucks store at Gatwick South Terminal | Photo credit: SSP Group

A continued rise in leisure travel and the loosening of Covid-19 restrictions in Europe and North America helped SSP Group post revenue of £803.2m ($936.5m) for the first six months of the travel food and beverage operator’s financial year.

Reporting its results for the first half of its 2022 financial year ending 31 March 2022, SSP Group said revenues surged 219.9% on the same period in 2021, when many travel restrictions were still in place internationally, and now sit at around 64% of 2019 levels.

SSP Group, which operates 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, also reported that revenues have continued to rise for the first six weeks of the second half of the financial year, now at 83% of 2019 levels.

This was attributed to a recovery in leisure travel, especially in Continental Europe and North America where revenues are back to above 80%. However, business-related travel remains slow to recover, SSP Group noted.

In the UK the gradual return of commuter footfall has seen sales exceed 82% of pre Covid-19 levels.

Sales in the Middle East, India, Australia and Thailand are also showing signs of renewed recovery, but limited travel activity in China and Hong Kong, following a fresh wave of lockdowns, weigh down overall company performance.

SSP Group also noted the retention of contracts and mobilisation of new business, with circa 50 new units opening in the first half of the year. The operator reported a £2.3m ($2.7m) loss before tax for the period compared to a £299.7m ($349m) loss a year ago.

“The business is recovering well from a hugely challenging period. We have seen a significant rebound in trade since the impact of Omicron, with revenues currently running at over 80% of pre Covid-19 levels and with a similar proportion of our sites now open… 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,” said Patrick Coveney, CEO of SSP Group.

Looking to the year ahead, SSP said the current geopolitical and macroeconomic situation, alongside short-term supply chain challenges, is unlikely to deter a strong summer period in its key markets, with sales in the second half of the year projected to be around 80-85% of pre Covid-19 levels and for full year sales to be in the region of £2bn ($2.3bn).

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