National Express cancels dividend as Covid-19 bites

National Express has said it will cancel its final dividend after the company revealed that revenues had taken a major hit from the coronavirus pandemic.

The business reported that revenue had grown by 9.4% in the three months to the end of March, although only because the first two months of the year had been strong.

Revenue increased by 17% year-on-year in the January and February period, National Express reported.

The company said it has “acted swiftly and decisively” to protect its business, by liaising with governments and cutting costs.

Two members of staff have died after contracting coronavirus, National Express said alongside its trading update on Tuesday.

“I would like to pay tribute to our two colleagues who have tragically lost their lives to coronavirus. They were much respected colleagues and will be sorely missed,” said chief executive Dean Finch.

Speaking of the company’s financial performance, he added: “We continue to make important progress in dealing with the impact of the pandemic across our businesses.”

National Express also changed the time and location of its annual shareholder meeting, and will bar shareholders from showing up in person, as the Government has enforced lockdown in the UK.

The business has made its buses free for health care workers in Dundee and the West Midlands, as well as parts of Spain, one of its main markets.

In the US the company, which runs school buses, is getting more than 60% of its pre-coronavirus revenues from its schools business, propped up by government support.

Mr Finch added: “This pandemic has reinforced the absolutely fundamental and essential role our services play in the communities we serve. With their exceptional actions, governments and authorities have clearly recognised this as well.

“National Express went in to this crisis with revenue up strongly across the group. I remain confident that we will emerge out of this unprecedented period with our portfolio of strong assets ready to return to delivering industry-leading service to our customers.”