Express & Star

Annual revenue rose 12.2pc for National Express owner

National Express owner Mobico Group saw revenue rise 12.2 per cent to £3.15 billion in 2023.

A National Express coach

Growth was driven by increased passenger volumes, route recovery and pricing.

Profitability impacted by inflationary pressures and a £105 million reduction in Covid-related support.

The group pre-tax loss reduced from £225.3m in 2022 to £98.3m.

Ignacio Garat, Mobico Group's chief executive, said: "Our 2023 results are below the expectations we set ourselves at the beginning of the year.The delays due to the additional work relating to the German rail business was regrettable but it is now concluded.

"Although group revenue growth was encouraging, driven by passenger demand and actions taken to recover inflation, this has not translated into an improvement in reported profitability.

"I am nevertheless encouraged by the progress we have made in transforming the business, with the new leadership we have appointed in North America School Bus and the UK and Germany making a tangible impact and the first phase of our Accelerate cost efficiency programme delivering ahead of expectations.

"Our focus remains on delivering the benefits of our restructuring programs and in recovering inflationary costs through pricing, while maintaining a relentless focus on the quality of our offering to support growth. Opportunities remain to create a more appropriate and sustainable cost structure and we will not hesitate to take action where there is a clear strategic and financial benefit.

"I'd like to pay tribute to all of our employees, customers and stakeholders for their considerable efforts and support as we lead the modal shift from cars to mass transit, improving social mobility and reducing carbon emissions."

In UK bus revenue rose 15.5 per cent to £610.1m with passenger numbers up 8.2 per cent and UK coach saw a 25.4 per cent rise in passenger numbers on 2022.

Coach got an estimated £15m profit benefit from rail strikes.

Bus was significantly impacted by the drivers' strike in the first quarter and associated wage settlements which added £23.3m of incremental cost. The cost of the strike itself was £2.4m.

It received significant funding from West Midlands Combined Authority to protect the bus network of £47m, but this was not sufficient to cover the cost increases or deliver an attractive return and the Birmingham-based National Express team is working to reset this in January 2025 when the current funding deal ends.

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