Wednesday 26 February 2020 9:02 am

Upper Crust owner SSP warns over coronavirus profit hit

Upper Crust owner SSP Group has warned it expects to take a £5m profit hit in February as sales in the Asia Pacific region halved this month due to the impact of coronavirus.

SSP, which operates across travel hubs, said falling passenger numbers across the region – which counts for eight per cent of total group revenue – would reduce overall revenue by around £10m to £12m this month.

Read more: Upper Crust owner SSP sales rise on strong UK passenger growth

Operating profit for the whole group is expected to drop by between £4m and £5m, after sales in the Asia Pacific region – the centre of the outbreak- dropped 50 per cent.

SSP said passenger numbers in China and Hong Kong had plummeted 90 per cent and 70 per cent year-on-year as flights were cancelled and people stayed home to stop the spread of the virus. 

Passenger numbers across other key Asia Pacific countries, including Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan and the Philippines were also down between 25 per cent and 30 per cent.

Coronavirus also impacted passenger numbers at airports in Australia and major travel hubs in the Middle East and India. 

In response to the falling sales SSP has temporarily closed some units and reduced operating hours.

Read more: Upper Crust owner SSP announces £100m share buyback

“Clearly the duration of the COVID-19 virus and its impact on global travel is uncertain at this stage, as are its consequences for our financial performance for the full year. We will continue to take all the necessary action as appropriate,” the company said in a statement this morning. 

“Our strategy remains unchanged, and we continue to be well placed to benefit from the significant structural growth opportunities in our markets over the medium term and to create ongoing value for our shareholders.”