Profits up 12% year-on-year at travel site operator SSP

Travel retail business SSP, which operates brands including Starbucks and Upper Crust, has reported £221.m in operating profit.

The company said the 12.1% increase in profit in the year ended 30 September 2019 had been driven by a combination of new contracts, operational efficiency and sales growth.

Total revenue was £2,794.6m, up 7.8% at constant currency, and up 9% at actual exchange rates. Growth in air and rail passenger numbers drove a 1.9% increase in like-for-like sales.

“SSP has delivered another strong performance in 2019,” said CEO Simon Smith. “Operating profit was driven by solid like-for-like sales growth despite some external headwinds, significant new contract openings and further operational improvements.”

Smith added that SSP continued to grow its business in Continental Europe, India and the Philippines. It expanded into Brazil for the first time and planned to extend into Bermuda, Bahrain and Malaysia.

“The new business pipeline is strong across all our geographies both this year and next, and we’ve announced a £100m share buyback, which further demonstrates our confidence in the future of the business.”

Recent SSP activity in the UK has included a partnership with Warrens Bakery to open a store in Gatwick Airport. The company was forced to close its first Knead site, opened with Paul Hollywood at Euston Station, as building worked started on the High Speed 2 (HS2) development, but has not ruled out opening further sites under the brand.

Smith added: “The new financial year has started in line with our expectations and, while a degree of uncertainty always exists around passenger numbers in the short-term, we continue to be well placed to benefit from the structural growth opportunities in our markets and to create value for our shareholders.”

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