Optimism fades for Upper Crust owner SSP as sales slide

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After a promising start to the new financial year Upper crust owner SSP has revealed sales are slipping back.

In a trading update in December SSP struck an upbeat tone as sales recovered to 66 per cent of 2019 levels. Today, SSP revealed that Omicron fears had hit leisure traffic causing sales to slide downwards to 57 per cent of their level pre-pandemic over the past eight weeks.

“The spread of the Omicron variant around the world and the subsequent government restrictions have inevitably had an impact on passenger numbers in many of our markets,” SSP said in today’s trading update.

“Recent weeks have been more encouraging, as government restrictions have been lifted in the UK and some Continental European markets, with sales now trending positively again, driven mainly by strengthening trading in the Rail sector as commuter travel returns,” the company added.

Despite recovery hitting a speed bump SSP said it had this month repaid the £300m drawn from the Bank of England for Covid financing, leaving pro-forma available liquidity at £630m at the end of the first quarter, down from £635m at the end of September.

SSP said it is actively managing openings and closures in response to fluctuating demand with 1,950 units now open, almost three quarters of the company’s total estate. The company said it’s aiming for a return to pre-pandemic revenue and profit by 2024.

Business Matters Magazine

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