Upper Crust owner SSP suffers ‘extremely low sales’ due to virus

Upper Crust owner SSP Group said it has suffered “extremely low sales” after the coronavirus pandemic forced it to shut sites.

The travel food specialist reported that like-for-like sales tumbled 8.4% in the half year to March 31, after most global markets were hammered by the virus and subsequent travel restrictions.

It said that although the impact of the virus has been “significant”, the firm has sufficient liquidity to manage through a “prolonged crisis and slow recovery”.

Revenue for the six-month period slipped by 2.7% to £1.21 billion after the business “performed well and in line with expectations” before the outbreak.

The company, which also owns the Caffe Ritazza brand, said it was first impacted by the virus in its Asian operations in January and February before trading “deteriorated rapidly” in March as it spread further into Europe.

Only 10% of its units continued to trade throughout April, as the company “effectively hibernated”, it said.

SSP said its focus now is to “gradually reopen” its business, lower its cost base and protect the safety of staff and customers.

However, it said it intends to “seek out and invest in new long-term growth opportunities” further down the line.

Simon Smith, chief executive officer of SSP Group, said: “Covid-19 has had an unprecedented impact on the travel sector.

“Our response has been to take quick and decisive action to protect our people and our business, whilst around the world our colleagues have helped and supported their local communities.

“Although challenging, it was a great illustration of SSP at its best and demonstrated the resilience of our teams.

“Looking forward, and with sufficient liquidity to manage a pessimistic trading scenario, I believe the actions we have been taking during this crisis will make us a fitter and stronger business, well placed to deliver for all our stakeholders as the travel market recovers.”

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