Upper Crust Owner Expects Q1 Sales To Slump Due To Virus Resurgence
The owner of the Upper Crust and Caffè Ritazza snack chains, SSP Group, has said that it expects first quarter sales to sink 80% due to rising COVID-19 cases in Europe after it reported an annual loss.
A resurgence in coronavirus infections and further lockdowns in the United Kingdom and continental Europe have resulted in further volatility in passenger numbers, which is expected to continue through the second quarter, the company said.
"Whilst we expect passenger numbers to remain subdued over the winter, we are optimistic that, alongside good progress with the vaccination programme, we will see a significant upturn in both domestic and international travel from the spring," CEO Simon Smith said.
The company also said that it has broadened its revenue streams by selling essentials such as masks and sanitisers, as well as by providing food for COVID-19 testing centres at airports and feeding airline staff.
SSP did not provide further details on the potential 5,000 job cuts in Britain it announced in July.
The company, which has cut investments, stopped shareholder payouts and launched an emergency share issue to ride out the crisis, said that it has agreed on further covenant waivers and amendments up to March of 2022.
Underlying Pre-Tax Loss
The company, the chains of which sell food and drinks in airports and train stations in approximately 35 countries, posted an underlying pre-tax loss of £239.6 million for the year that ended on September 30, 2020, compared with a profit of £203.2 million a year earlier.