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SSP reveals virus cost it up to £12m in lost sales during February

Ritazza

Travel F&B specialist SSP has temporarily closed units and cut operating hours at sites around the world as it battles cost pressures in the face of the coronavirus.

UK-based SSP operates nearly 3,000 businesses at 180 airports and 300 rail stations in 35 countries around the world.

It said it has been working with clients to maintain appropriate service levels, while taking the “necessary action” to reduce costs in territories where there has been a sharp fall in sales, notably China and across the Asia Pacific region.

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SSP makes around 14% of its revenues from outside Europe and North America, where it has seen the biggest impact of the COVID-19 virus.

It was expecting February sales from the Asia Pacific, which accounts for 8% of group turnover, to come in at around 50% lower than last year.

Together with the impact in the Middle East and India, the company said it would reduce its monthly revenue by £10m to £12m, with a corresponding reduction in operating profit of around £4m to £5m.

“Since the escalation of the virus during January, our immediate priority has been the health and safety of our colleagues, customers and partners based across China and the Asia Pacific region,” it said in a statement.

“We have worked closely with our teams and local authorities to implement a range of additional health and safety policies and protocols covering hygiene, travel and quarantine periods, in order to keep people fully informed and as well protected as possible against infection.”

SSP’s presence in the airport market has led to it being hit hard by restrictions on movement and people travelling.

Passenger numbers have plummeted 90% in China and 70% in Hong Kong, while Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan and the Philippines are down by 25% to 30%, it said.

SSP said it was uncertain at this stage to tell what the consequences for its full-year financial performance would be, but insisted its strategy remains unchanged.

“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,” it said.

SSP employs 39,000 staff and serves 1.5 million customers every day. It operates an extensive portfolio of more than 550  brands, including Upper Crust, Ritazza, M&S, Leon and YO! Sushi.

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Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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