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Passengers delayed in airports and stations provide boost for Upper Crust owner

·2-min read

Passengers dealing with misery at airports and train stations amid delays and cancellations have had little to do other than buy sandwiches, boosting Upper Crust owner SSP.

In an update to shareholders on Thursday, the business said that it made nearly £9 in revenue in recent weeks for every £10 it made in the same period before the pandemic.

Revenue was running at 89% of 2019 levels in the seven weeks since May 24, and was at 87% in the company’s third quarter as a whole.

Thousands of passengers have been stuck in limbo in airports and train stations across the country as they wait for their delayed planes and trains.

“Our revenue performance has been driven by an ongoing recovery in passenger numbers and has also benefited from longer passenger dwell times in some markets,” SSP told shareholders on Thursday.

“The recovery has been led by domestic and leisure travel in both air and rail.

“Rail commuter travel continues to recover well, albeit at a slower pace than leisure travel.”

But in SSP’s recovery from the pandemic, its UK business is lagging behind other markets.

UK sales averaged 82% of 2019 levels in the quarter, compared to 93% in Europe, and 91% in North America.

The rest of the world segment was further behind, still only 75% of 2019 levels, as passenger levels remain low in China and Hong Kong amid ongoing Covid-19 restrictions.

In the update, the business also signalled that it might hike prices for customers trying to buy food from its shops.

Bosses believe they can offset higher costs – inflationary pressures – by changing prices, without losing too many customers.

“In common with the entire hospitality sector, we continue to face widespread and increasing inflationary pressures impacting our supply chain, labour and energy costs, and these are anticipated to persist well into next year,” SSP said.

“However, we are confident in our ability to manage these pressures through productivity and pricing initiatives and expect to mitigate the impact on profit, whilst sustaining the positive momentum in consumer demand.”

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