Group revenue up, buses down at First

Group revenue up, buses down at First Group revenue up, buses down at First
Revenue at FirstGroup’s UK Bus division fell by 2,6 per cent in the six months to 30 September. The figure was £570.5million, compared with £585.6million in the same period last year. Operating profit was £55.4million (2009: £50.8million), an increase of 9.1 per cent attributed primarily to lower fuel costs. The operating margin at UK Bus was the highest of any of First’s divisions, at 9.7 per cent. That compares, for example, with a 4.6 per cent margin at the much bigger UK Rail division where revenue was £1,053.1million, but operating profit was lower than that for UK Bus at £48.4million.

Total group revenue was just over £3billion, with just over £1.6billion from the UK and the balance from North America. The group’s operating profit was £170.6million (2009: £164.8million).

First says that like-for-like revenue in its UK Bus business actually increased by 1.3 per cent during the period. Says new chief executive Tim O’Toole:  “In this lower revenue growth environment, we continue to prioritise cost reductions and network management on a route by route basis. Where we have seen changes in passenger demand we have responded promptly with targeted frequency or mileage reductions which will enable the business to deliver an improved operating margin. These actions are right for the current economic environment, however, we retain the capability to increase the frequency of services and to grow our networks as the UK economy recovers.”


Photo: New First chief executive Tim O’Toole