SSP UK sales crash 80% as Covid-19 hits travel market

Travel-retail business SSP has seen UK and European like-for-like sales crash 80% year-on-year.

The business, which operates brands including Starbucks and Upper Crust, said travel bans and airline capacity reductions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic had severely impacted passenger numbers in the UK, Europe and North America, particularly in international travel.

As a result, based on the past week, like-for-like revenues across the UK and continental Europe were 80-85% lower year-on-year, with the impact in the air market being greater than in rail.

In North America, SSP like-for-like revenues were down 80% YOY and in the Rest of World, which includes Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, India and Brazil, they were down 60%.

Across the whole of March, SSP expected group revenues to be 40-45% lower year on year. And, for its first half of the financial year, the six months ending 31 March 2020, it expected to see a 3% decline in group revenue.

The business has temporarily closed some units, reduced operating hours and halted its openings programme for the second half of the financial year. It has also introduced ‘significant’ salary reductions across all senior management, the group executive and group board.

SSP said it had considered “a very pessimistic scenario assuming an almost total shutdown of the travel market for the whole of the second half of the financial year”, with group revenue being down about 80- 85% in H2 2020 against the same period last year.

The business has agreed a new 18-month bank facility of up to £112.5m, and announced a proposed equity raising.

"The Covid-19 outbreak is an unprecedented crisis and is having a severely negative impact on the travel sector,” said SSP Group CEO Simon Smith.

“In common with the sector, we have seen a very sharp drop-off in passenger numbers and this has heavily impacted SSP revenues. We’ve had to take significant action to reduce our costs while doing everything we can to limit the impact of this on our colleagues.”

Smith added that he hoped the business could re-open its units.

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