National Express Group today reports on trading for the six months to 30 June 2007 prior to entering its close period. We have made a good start to the year and are trading in line with our expectations.
In Spain, Alsa has experienced good passenger growth on its long distance and regional coaching operations. Last month's unseasonal poor weather particularly around key holiday weekends resulted in a weaker revenue performance, however the first half year's results are expected to be in line with our expectations. Current bookings indicate a busy summer following increased promotional activity and the launch of a new loyalty scheme. Further to our announcement relating to the acquisition of Continental Auto in April, discussions are ongoing with the Spanish competition authorities.
Our coach division has experienced a strong start to the year particularly on our airport and short distance routes with passenger growth of 3%. We continue to develop our network to support major sports and arts events. In April, we became the official transport provider to the new Wembley Stadium. Since then we have carried over 10,000 passengers to the venue on our coach services. Forward bookings for our key summer period are strong.
Our bus division performed well in the period. Overall passenger numbers are up 2%, reflecting the first concerted growth in the West Midlands for several years. All parts of the business, including London, are delivering positive results. We continue to work with Centro on the development of a new Partnership Agreement in the West Midlands reflecting a renewed desire by all parties to secure further patronage growth.
Our North American operation has enjoyed its best ever bid season securing over $38 million worth of new contracts including a number of new conversions. In addition, we have retained over 98% of our contracts. Our outlook for this part of the business remains particularly positive.
We have enjoyed sustained growth in our trains division with our "one" franchise delivering double digit passenger growth and passenger numbers across the division up by 6% in the first half of the year. We continue to deliver industry leading operational performance. Whilst the result for the new East Midlands franchise was disappointing, we await the outcome of the New Cross Country and Inter-City East Coast bids.
Our results for the six months ended 30 June 2007 will be announced on 26 July 2007.
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There will be an analyst conference call at 0900 hours on 2 July 2007. Details can be obtained from Suzanne Bartch at Maitland on 020 7379 5151.
For further information, please contact:
National Express Group
Richard Bowker, Chief Executive +44 20 7529 2000
Adam Walker, Finance Director
Nicola Marsden, Director of Group Communications
Maitland +44 20 7379 5151
Neil Bennett/ Suzanne Bartch/Brian Hudspith