Upper Crust owner SSP Group has struck an agreement to acquire 100 per cent of the shares in the Aussie-based airport food and beverage operator Airport Retail Enterprises (ARE).
SSP Group, which runs restaurants, bars and other hospitality venues in airports and train stations, said the deal would accelerate its growth strategy in the Asia Pacific region.
ARE operates 62 bars, cafes and casual dining outlets in seven Australian airports, including Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Founded in 1971, the group’s annualised sales are in the region of £100m.
The acquisition is expected to complete at the end of June, subject to regulatory clearance and will be funded through SSP’s existing cash and credit facilities. The total figure for the deal was undisclosed.
It comes after the eateries operator cashed in on the post-Covid return of air travel in 2023, despite taking a hit from ongoing UK rail strikes. SSP resumed its dividend in December and has forecast higher sales through 2024.
As part of the transaction, the eateries operator will gain entry to four new airports in Canberra, the Gold Coast, Townsville and Mount Issa, taking its tally to 11 of the largest 19 in Australia.
“We are very pleased to have signed an agreement to acquire a high quality and highly complementary business in Australia,” SSP Group chief executive Patrick Coveney, said.
“The acquisition will increase our portfolio of brands and concepts, give us entry into new prime air locations, enhance our position as a leading airport F&B operator in the country and create significant value for shareholders.”
He added: “The Asia Pacific region offers a significant opportunity to build returns and drive growth for the Group. Our enlarged business in Australia will have the opportunity to become a regional centre of excellence. We look forward to welcoming around 1,500 colleagues from the ARE business to our team.”
Peter Butts, Founder of ARE, said: “This transaction is a major milestone for ARE and we are delighted that it will be joining the SSP Group, one of the leading F&B operators in travel locations globally.
“The acquisition will allow the combined business to offer an even wider range of high-quality F&B selections and maintain an unwavering commitment to excellence in the airport environment.”