NatEx has optimistic outlook

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National Express’ UK Coach division saw a 9% growth in both revenues and passenger volume
National Express’ UK Coach division saw a 9% growth in both revenues and passenger volume

Express Group – according to its latest Interim Management Statement for the period from January 1, 2014 to date.

The group said underlying trading has been positive and it is on track to deliver its earnings expectations for the year. All UK divisions have delivered strong growth, supported by rising passenger numbers.

Key developments during the period have included:

  • 5% revenue growth in the UK businesses driven by a 4% increase in passengers;
  • 9% core revenue growth in UK Coach along with 9% passenger volume increase;
  • Implementation of yield management in ALSA to combat rail competition;
  • 18% revenue growth in Morocco, with scale-up of new concession in Tangiers, supported by 120 new buses; and…
  • Retention of largest North American contract, providing paratransit services in Boston.

In UK Bus, like-for-like commercial revenue grew by 3%. National Express said good growth in commercial passenger volume, also up 3% in the period, reflected improved service delivery, with better punctuality and fewer complaints.

In North America, Total revenue in North America School Bus was 1% lower in the period (at constant exchange rates) reflecting the impact of sustained severe weather in the first quarter. Excluding this impact, underlying revenue for the current school year grew by 2%.

$15m of revenue was lost to snow across School Bus and Transit in the first quarter of 2014, the majority of which is being recovered in the second quarter.

Net debt at the end of April 2014 had risen in line with normal seasonal working capital requirements and to fund investment opportunities. The company said debt is expected to decline by June 30 towards the level at last year end.

The group said it is focused on developing its pipeline of contract opportunities in 2014. Success so far has included retaining key contracts in current businesses in Europe and North America, submitting bids to win major new business in existing markets, and opening up new international opportunities.