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Upper Crust owner flags Omicron uncertainty, sales improve

Upper Crust owner posts bigger loss, sales still below pre-COVID levels
Upper Crust owner posts bigger loss, sales still below pre-COVID levels   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021
By Reuters

– Upper Crust owner SSP warned of uncertainty from the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, even as sales improved to two-thirds of pre-pandemic levels in recent months thanks to an extended European summer and workers returning to offices.

SSP said on Wednesday that in stress-testing scenarios regarding the new variant, it assumed that sales and core losses in the second quarter of the next fiscal year could be similar to fiscal 2021 levels, when most countries were under lockdowns.

The company, most of whose 2,800 shops are in airports, train stations and other travel locations, said underlying pretax losses widened to 251 million pounds for the 12 months to September from 239.6 million pounds a year earlier.

“Whilst there remains some uncertainty in the immediate outlook over the winter months, particularly over the potential impact of the Omicron variant on travel restrictions, we are confident in our ability to manage any near-term volatility,” London-listed SSP said.

Its sales in the first nine weeks of the new fiscal year were averaging at about 66% of pre-COVID levels, an improvement from September, when they were running at about half of 2019 levels.

Shares of SSP were 2% higher by 0815 GMT.

The company reiterated its expectation for like-for-like revenue to return to 2019 levels by 2024.