SSP, the travel location foodservice brand operator, has reported a 41.5% surge in underlying profit before tax from £16.4m to £23.2m for the six months to 31 March 2016.

Like-for-like sales were also up 3.3%, which the company said was driven by an increase in air passenger travel and retailing initiatives. Group revenue was up 4.4% on an actual exchange basis from £859.2m to £896.7m.

The company declared it was pleased with the performance of the UK business, which saw revenue increase 2.8% on a like-for-like basis and underlying operating profit jump 47.2% from £18.0m to £26.5m. It said this had been driven by a continued increase in airport passenger numbers and spend per passenger.

Outlining its strategy going forward, SSP said it was focused on the food and beverage market in travel locations and that the long-term structural growth of this sector in airports and railway stations offered the company excellent opportunities for expansion. It added that, in the first half of the year, net contract gains were up 2.0%, with particularly strong growth in North America, driven by new unit openings and high contract retention.

degree of uncertainty

In its outlook, the company said the second half of its financial year had started in line with its expectations, but warned that a degree of uncertainty always existed in the short term around global events and passenger numbers.

Kate Swann, chief executive officer at SSP, said: “SSP has made further good progress in the first half of 2016 and we continue to deliver our strategic initiatives. Constant currency operating profit was up 28% driven by good like-for-like sales growth in our existing business, new contract openings, which are building our presence across the world, and further operational improvements. I am particularly encouraged by the pace of development in our North America and Asia-Pacific operations.

“Looking forward, the second half has started in line with our expectations. While a degree of uncertainty always exists around passenger numbers in the short term, we are well-placed to benefit from the structural growth opportunities in our markets and to create further shareholder value.”