FirstGroup’s underlying profits surge to £82.1m

FirstGroup's underlying profits surge to £82.1m

Aberdeen-based transport giant FirstGroup has reported strong financial performance in FY 2023 with profits more than doubling to £82.1 million, exceeding expectations.

The firm attributes this growth to operational improvements in First Bus and First Rail, along with a focus on decarbonisation. FirstGroup invested around £37m in value-adding acquisitions for First Bus, and roughly £43m in the electrification of its bus fleet and associated infrastructure, aided by government co-funding.

Despite ongoing rail strikes and the loss of the Transpennine Express franchise last month, the transport group expects earnings from its train business and overall group results to remain consistent over the next year.

FirstGroup noted the past few years as the most challenging in UK rail industry history, grappling with industrial action, the pandemic, and changing passenger habits. The loss of the Transpennine Express franchise, which contributed £8.5m to the group’s rail division income, was a significant blow.

FirstGroup's underlying profits surge to £82.1m

Graham Sutherland

CEO Graham Sutherland said: “We have delivered a strong financial performance in FY 2023. In First Rail, our teams have worked extremely hard on our service objectives, and the notable success of our open access operations is further recognition of the considerable expertise and ambition of our team.

“In First Bus, we are seeing the benefits of actions we have taken to transform the business, and we are establishing ourselves as leaders in decarbonisation as we accelerate the electrification of our bus fleet to deliver value not just for FirstGroup but for all our stakeholders.

“Our leading positions in bus and rail, together with the strength of our balance sheet, will allow FirstGroup to create long-term shareholder value while delivering the vital services and innovation that are key to achieving society’s sustainability and economic goals.”

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