Bus performance improves at First
FirstGroup revenue decreased by 10.9 per cent in the six months to 30 September, down to £2,941.1million from £3,300.7million in the same period last year. First attributes the dramatic drop to the end of revenue support in rail franchises First Great Western and First Capital Connect, a reduction in First ScotRail subsidy, non-recurring revenues from UK Bus operations sold or closed and foreign exchange translation.
Excluding these items, revenue increased by 3.9 per cent. Adjusted operating profit increased by 2.4 per cent to £103.6million (2013: £101.2million), principally reflecting increased profits in UK Rail, offset by lower profits in First Student due to the reduced number of operating days in the period. Group margins increased, with improvements principally in UK Bus and UK Rail divisions.
Revenue at First UK Bus was down 8.5 per cent from £490.7million to £449.2million mainly because the group pulled out of London, but operating profit rose by 6.3 per cent from £15.9million to £16.9million. UK Bus accounts for 15.3 per cent of First’s revenue, and 16.3 per cent of its operating profit.
Chief executive Tim O’Toole says: “Now that the major network redesigns and selected fare re-basing actions have taken place in UK Bus, we are in a better position to cover off cost inflation through annual price increases, underpinned by continued cost efficiencies. We will continue to target volume growth through improving our services and investing in fleet and technology, reflecting the local needs of our customers and communities.”