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National Express pre-tax profit up 18% after strong summer in the UK

"Group revenue and profit are up strongly and we are carrying more passengers. We expect this momentum to continue in our traditionally quieter fourth quarter," says National Express
national express bus
The core coach business brought in more than £5mln in revenue for every week in August

National Express Group PLC (LON: NEX) on Thursday said brisk business activity during the summer, particularly from its UK coach unit, has led to a rise in group revenue and profit during the third quarter.

The Birmingham-based public transport company said group pre-tax profit climbed 18.3% compared with the same period last year, and revenue rose by 9.5%. Group margin also rose year-on-year, the FTSE 250-listed company said.

READ: National Express becomes largest transport operator in Morocco after fifth contract win

It was “a strong summer” for activity in the UK, with the coach business “especially showing outstanding organic growth”, said National Express. The UK coach unit’s revenue rose 9.4% on a like-for-like-basis, and core revenue grew by 10.1%. Passenger numbers increased by 6%.

The core coach business brought in more than £5mln in revenue for every week in August for the first time ever, with Monday revenue for the August Bank Holiday rising 13 %.

National Express said the mid-September purchase of Stewarts, a high-quality coach business, expands its B2B operations among the blue-chip company in the fast-growing M4 corridor.

Dean Finch, group chief executive said: "We had a good summer's trading, with our UK coach business, in particular, delivering outstanding organic growth. Group revenue and profit are up strongly and we are carrying more passengers. We expect this momentum to continue in our traditionally quieter fourth quarter.”

Finch added: "With Spanish concession renewals further delayed, a major contract starting during 2019 in Rabat and encouraging pricing trends in North America, our outlook is positive. Our continued focus on cash flow and operational performance should allow us to continue to grow profit in the years ahead."

At the Spanish subsidiary ALSA, revenue rose 15% in constant currency terms and passenger numbers grew by 5.7%.

In North America, revenue rose by 6.9%.

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