Upper Crust owner sees travellers return but sales still down on pre-Covid times

The travel sector operator SSP said sales in the past three weeks have improved but remain at just 47% of pre-pandemic levels.

Simon Neville
Wednesday 29 September 2021 07:41
Upper Crust owner SSP has seen an improvement in business since the lockdown restrictions eased. (Aaron Chown / PA)
Upper Crust owner SSP has seen an improvement in business since the lockdown restrictions eased. (Aaron Chown / PA)

Upper Crust owner SSP has seen a boost in sales at its travel stores but is still far below pre-pandemic levels, the company has revealed.

Bosses said there was a significant improvement in the past three months as lockdown restrictions ease, but they remain around just 47% of pre-pandemic levels.

The company said domestic travel, which makes up around 60% of all sales, alongside leisure travel is recovering more rapidly than international and business travel.

The pandemic has hit SSP hard as travellers stay away (Victoria Jones / PA)

In the last week alone, revenue was around 53% of 2019 levels – a vast improvement on the three months to the end of June when they stood at just 27%.

The more recent recovery was due to 60% of sites in travel hubs being able to reopen, compared with just 30% in the previous quarter.

The strongest trading has been in continental Europe where bosses saw a strong recovery in rail travel and a busy summer holiday season in airports.

North America is also seeing a recovery in domestic air travel, the company said.

In the UK, sales in the last three months are expected to be 43% of 2019 levels following the easing of lockdown restrictions in July, with growth being driven by the rail sector, it added.

But sales remain hit in other regions where the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out has generally been slower, including Australia and Thailand with sales in the last three months expected to be only 29% of 2019 levels.

Overall, the company said it now expects to make a profit in the quarter following tight cost management and tapping into Government support, where available.

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