SSP, the owner of the Caffè Ritazza and Upper Crust chains, said sales had returned to mid-2019 in the past week, with the travel sector one of the last to recover from the pandemic crisis.
The group, which operates stores at about 480 airports and train stations, said trade last week was 53 per cent from the comparable period in 2019. Revenue in the six months to end-September is expected to be 37 per cent from 2019 levels generally due to stricter travel restrictions in early summer.
This is the strongest sign of recovery for the group since closures and the closure of international borders forced it to close the majority of its outlets in March last year.
In the past six months, SSP has doubled the number of websites it has opened and said on Wednesday that about 60 percent of its cafes and restaurants are operational.
The group said it was “still opening its outlets selectively and in line with the recovery in passenger numbers”, and that they had become profitable in the most recent quarter thanks to an increase in domestic travel.
Continuous travel restrictions, strict testing systems and different levels of progress with vaccines have made international travel one of the last sectors to recover from the crisis. In Asia and Australia, SSP noted that sales are still affected by joining measures.
In addition to its own brands, SSP also operates restaurants for Burger King, Jamie Oliver and Yo! Sushi under franchise agreements and has sites in 35 countries.
The company also indicated that food price inflation and labor shortages next year will result in lower profits on still subdued sales. Shares fell 5 percent by noon.
In March, the SSP hacked shareholders for £ 475 million through an emergency issue, which made it available at the end of September for liquidity of around £ 900 million. Since the crisis began, it has laid off 14,000 staff.
Anna Barnfather, an analyst at Liberum, said the difficult prospects for business-oriented businesses could provide an opportunity for SSP as smaller, less well-funded food-to-go businesses are forced to close permanently.
“There are a lot of external factors that they can’t handle, but they were able to adjust their cost base, so once the market starts to pick up, I’m sure we’re outperforming the market,” she said.
Several operators of airport and station concessions, including the bar group JD Wetherspoon, were slower to reopen their sites. Wagamama owner The Restaurant Group has closed about 30 travel outlets.
Some businesses have seen an entry in travel budgets as they bet on a stronger recovery in the long run.
Steve Holmes, CEO of Azzurri, which owns Zizzi and ASK Italian, told the Financial Times this month that he was looking for airport seats for the company’s Coco di Mama pasta brand: ‘It’s a very exciting one. opportunity to look at travel and air as it has all shaken over the past 18 months. ”