National Express Group PLC
01 May 2008
National Express Group PLC
AGM Statement and Q1 Interim Management Statement
National Express Group PLC ('the Group') is publishing its interim management
statement for the period 1 January 2008 to 30 April 2008, ahead of the Group's
Annual General Meeting being held later today.
The Group has made a good start to the year and is trading in line with
We continue to enjoy good revenue growth in Spain, which is in line with our
expectations. In particular, we achieved the 5% revenue growth assumption set
out in our acquisition business case for Continental Auto. The integration of
the two businesses has progressed as planned and we will realise the targeted
synergies. Our position as the number one private operator of public transport
services in Spain leaves us well positioned for the expected further
liberalisation of the Spanish transport market.
We are encouraged by the performance of the whole UK Division. The integration
process announced in July 2007 is substantially complete, with the £11 million
of annualised cost savings achieved. We are now seeing the benefit of having a
single management team responsible for all activities in the UK, particularly in
the areas of revenue and yield management.
Our trains business has continued to perform in line with expectations and we
have continued to improve operational performance across all our train operating
companies. We have achieved overall revenue growth of 9% in our trains business
despite a softening of demand on Stansted Airport routes resulting from lower
footfall through the airport.
At National Express East Coast ('NXEC') we have seen revenue growth of 11%. The
NXEC franchise commenced in December 2007, and the launch process has proceeded
We have also relaunched our National Express East Anglia ('NXEA') franchise,
driven by our desire to make a significant improvement in our customers' travel
experience, as well as providing a platform for leveraging further value from
our strong brand. As part of these improvements NXEA is taking a leading role in
implementing the Department for Transport's plans for growth.
The bus business saw 6% revenue growth. In the West Midlands we are continuing
to see passenger growth in excess of 10% on the Quality Partnership routes
launched to date, and we are pleased that a further 44 routes were launched in
Dudley last week under our Quality Partnership with Centro. Our regulated bus
operations in London continue to perform well, achieving a 7% year-on-year
increase in operated kilometres.
The National Express Coach network saw encouraging revenue growth of 5% despite
the lower footfall at Stansted Airport. We expect our continued focus on
providing excellent value fares to drive sales in the important summer months.
Our plans to grow new revenue streams are proceeding well, particularly in the
special events business.
Our North American school bus business continues to focus on the Business
Transformation project which will deliver a step change improvement in the
experience of school boards and parents. Testing of the new processes will start
in the second half of 2008 and we are excited by the opportunities this project
will deliver for us.
Revenue growth of 7% was driven by a combination of the 2007 bid season and
organic route growth. This is in line with our expectations. The 2008 bid season
is not yet complete but we are pleased with our performance to date.
Despite the current economic back drop, all operations have made a good start to
the year and we have seen no adverse impact on trading in the first quarter. Our
clear business strategy and our well balanced and diversified portfolio give us
confidence in the Group's prospects. This confidence is demonstrated through our
continued commitment to increase dividends by 10% for the next three years.
We have provided increased certainty over our fuel cost exposure by increasing
the Group's fuel hedge position. We are currently 85% hedged for 2008 and 40%
hedged for 2009.
The strengthening of the Euro against the Pound since 1 January 2008 has
resulted in an increase in our reported net debt of around £70m. However, our
financial position remains unchanged as our €540m facility provides security
over adverse currency trends.
Barry Gibson will be stepping down from the Board in the near future. Barry
will have served National Express as a Non Executive Director for over eight
years having joined the Board in 1999. He is currently the Senior Independent
Director and Chairman of the Remuneration Committee. The Board thank him for
his outstanding contribution and wish him well for the future. We expect to
announce the recruitment of a replacement Non Executive Director for Barry
National Express Group PLC is today publishing an interim management statement
for the first quarter of 2008, covering events in the period from 1 January 2008
to 30 April 2008. The statement complies with the UK Listing Authority's
Disclosure and Transparency Rules.
The revenue growth figures disclosed above are the like-for-like growth in
revenue achieved when comparing the three months ended 31 March 2008 to the
three months ended 31 March 2007. For acquisitions and train franchises, the
like-for-like adjustment restates the 2007 results to assume ownership of the
business in both periods. The Easter holidays occurred in the three months ended
31 March 2008 but not in the three months ended 31 March 2007, thus benefitting
trading in 2008, and the like-for-like adjustments remove this benefit.
Like-for-like revenue growth is assessed in local currency and so is not
affected by changes in foreign exchange rates.
The interim results for the six months to 30 June 2008 will be announced on
Thursday 31 July 2008.
- ENDS -
For further information, please contact:
National Express Group PLC +44 7795 267 453
Richard Bowker, Chief Executive
Gareth Wright, Acting Group Finance Director
Maitland +44 20 7379 5151
Neil Bennett / Suzanne Bartch
This information is provided by RNS
The company news service from the London Stock Exchange