Spanish buses boost National Express sales

Marion Dakers
NATIONAL Express reassured shareholders that its Spanish bus business is still growing yesterday, but added that its UK coach division has been dented by the cut in subsidies for OAP passengers.

Just a week after the firm took investors on a trip to Madrid to demonstrate its resilience in the Eurozone nation, National Express said revenues at its Spanish Alsa unit are set to rise two per cent in the first half of the year.

The group added that Spanish state bodies are paying their bills promptly, with state receivables falling to €12m (£9.6m) in May compared to €45m at the end of 2011.

But the firm admitted that its UK coaches had lost 40 per cent of their income from concessionary fares after the government withdrew £15m of funding for senior citizen ticket subsidies in November.

Analysts at Shore Capital estimate that profits from UK coach will drop £3m this year, though they are optimistic that the firm can offset this with growth elsewhere.

Chief executive Dean Finch said the group is already making progress on replacing the lost revenues, with its event-day services to festivals and football matches proving increasingly popular. Revenues are rising in all divisions apart from UK coach, the firm added in its pre-close update.