National Express reports strong growth across its business for the first half of 2022, with revenue increasing by 34% to £1.3 billion, its highest in over a decade, and momentum building in the second quarter.
The group won 16 new contracts in the period, predominantly in North American shuttle and transit operations and its Spanish Alsa subsidiary, totalling over £150 million in revenue over the lives of the contracts, and entered Portugal with the successful mobilisation of its new Lisbon bus contract. Operations in Porto are set to begin in the first half of 2023.
The Group’s underlying operating profit was up nearly four-fold to £90.5 million, and underlying operating margin up to 7%. Statutory profit before tax was also up £70.7 million to £20.5 million. The Group said that it continues the tight management of its cost base, with fuel 100% hedged for 2022 and 75% for 2023, and that wage rises are manageable across the group.
Fleet decarbonisation is accelerating with plans approved for 1,500 zero-emission vehicles across the Group by 2024, and its UK Bus division on track to be 50% zero-emission vehicle by 2025, and 100% by 2030. The recovery of its UK coach operations is expected to build in the second half of the year, with the division expected to return to full year profit.
National Express Chief Executive Ignacio Garat said: “I am pleased to see momentum building across the Group, with strong growth in revenue, profit and cash in the first half. Our ‘Evolve’ strategy is delivering results and we are increasingly demonstrating our ability to rapidly mobilise safe, high quality operations on which our customers can rely. We won 16 new contracts in the half year, which will contribute over £150 million over their lives, and there is more to come. Our pipeline of growth opportunities now stands at more than £2 billion in annualised revenue.
“The path ahead will not be without challenges. We believe, however, that we are well positioned in an inflationary environment; resilient to slowing economic growth; and are taking all the steps we can to mitigate the industry-wide shortage of school bus drivers in the US.
“What we do is ever more critical for today’s world, providing part of the solution to both the climate crisis and cost of living crisis, enabling people to swap their private car journeys for public transport. I am confident that we have the team, the strategy and customer relationships to succeed, and I remain very excited about our future.”