FirstGroup releases trading update

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Results reveal the group’s bus division passenger volumes have improved to more than 70% of pre-pandemic levels overall – and to around 75% in its operations in England – since the easing of the Omicron-related restrictions

FirstGroup released its latest trading update on Friday 25 February. The Group said overall current trading is in line with expectations as set out in its December half-yearly results announcement. Although the restrictions implemented by Government as a response to the Omicron variant temporarily reduced demand levels, the Group said it was encouraged by the improving passenger volume trends subsequently.

Across its overall bus portfolio, the Group reported that passenger volumes have increased to more than 70% of equivalent 2020 levels, with higher volumes of around 75% in its operations in England after the easing of restrictions put in place in response to the omicron variant, as well as the return to schools and universities after the Christmas and New Year period. Lost and reduced mileage in certain areas has begun to ease, the Group said, as the number of employees self-isolating has reduced in recent weeks. Performance in the business-to-business segment was in line with expectations, with new contracts signed since December and other opportunities being explored.

Commenting on the results, David Martin, Executive Chairman, said: “We now have a focused and simplified Group and continue to enhance our financial strength and resilience by proactively managing the legacy assets and liabilities associated with last year’s portfolio rationalisation. We are pleased that passengers are returning to travel again following the easing of the Omicron-related restrictions put in place in December. It demonstrates our conviction that there is significant latent demand for travel on our services and we look forward to providing vital connections for our customers as the recovery continues to build. Public transport has a key role to play in the UK’s economic, decarbonisation and levelling up agendas and I remain confident that FirstGroup is very well placed to capture our many opportunities to create long term, sustainable value.”

The First Hampshire, Dorset and Berkshire division is reintroducing double-deckers to its City Red fleet in Southampton. First to arrive is Wrightbus StreetDeck 35209, SL16 RFK. FIRST