Upper Crust and Ritazza firm to lay bare impact of travel restrictions and lockdowns

Investors will this week be eyeing any signs of improvement at SSP group, the owner and operator of catering brands such as Upper Crust and Ritazza, after the devastating impact of the pandemic on its core business.

An Upper Crust outlet in Waterloo Station, London, pictured during the summer. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire
An Upper Crust outlet in Waterloo Station, London, pictured during the summer. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

Lockdowns and travel restrictions have not been kind to the group, which operates in 35 countries across hundreds of airports and railway stations. Its shares have almost halved in the last 12 months.

A trading update in September revealed that sales plummeted 95 per cent year-on-year in April and May, 90 per cent in June and 86 per cent across the second half to September.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

At the pre-tax level, analysts expect a much deeper loss for the second half compared to the first. For the full year, the consensus expectation is for a loss of £238 million against last year’s profit of £197m.

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, noted: “Of more interest will be the company’s outlook. By September SSP had reopened around 1,100 sites, or just over a third of the total, but further travel restrictions and lockdowns are likely to be halting any further upward momentum, where Continental Europe in particular had begun to show some improvement.

“For the year to September 2021, analysts are currently pencilling in broadly flat sales at £1.4 billion and a modest improvement in the pre-tax loss before a return to profit in fiscal 2022.

“SSP is working hard to ensure it weathers the pandemic as best it can and be in position for an eventual upturn in trading.”

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We’re more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers. If you haven’t already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription: www.u2swisshome.com/subscriptions


Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.