Stagecoach suffered a fall in revenue in the first half of the financial year, as chairman Sir Brian Souter said he planned to step down this morning.
The company said the fall in profit and revenue reflected the changing size of its business, as it updated market for the first time since it relinquished control of the lucrative West Coast rail franchise.
Souter, 65, still has a “significant” shareholding in the firm, he said this morning, but said he would pass the role onto non-executive director Ray O’Toole.
Pre-tax profit was £66.6m, down on £73.1m this time last year, while revenue was £800.2m, a 21 per cent drop.
Earnings per share were 10p, down 23 per cent, while the interim dividend to shareholders was unchanged at 3.8p.
Stagecoach had a net cash position of £69.9m for the half-year ending 27 October.
Why it’s interesting
It comes days after a joint venture involving Stagecoach and Virgin Trains relinquished its last bit of control over Britain’s railways, as the contract for the West Coast franchise – which links London, Birmingham and Manchester – passed over to competitor First Group.
The firm said that across the business, which is more focused on buses than it used to be, it expected market conditions to remain “challenging” in the north of England.
“There nevertheless remains a major opportunity for the business in driving modal shift from the car to bus as governments across the globe face growing expectations from citizens to address climate change, poor air quality and crippling road congestion,” it said.
Chairman Souter said he would continue as a non-executive board member. He said: “”At the age of 65, the time is right for me to step down as Stagecoach chairman to spend time on my other interests and with my family, including my three young grandchildren.”
Dame Ann Gloag and Sir Ewan Brown, both long-serving non-executive directors, will also retire from the board at the end of the year.
A senior independent director, Will Whitehorn, is also due to step down from the board mid-next year.
The flurry of moves means that, following Souter’s retirement, only one director on Stagecoach’s board will be female.
What Stagecoach said
Chief executive Martin Griffiths said: “We welcome recent government pro-bus policy and funding commitments.
“Combined with our own initiatives and our support for the wider UK bus industry strategy, we are well placed to benefit from the global drive for better mobility, cleaner air and action to protect the future of our planet.”