Holidaybreak Plc, the education, leisure and activity travel group, announces interim results for the six months ended March 31, 2009.
The group traditionally reports an operating loss in the first half due to the seasonal nature of the camping and education businesses
Carl Michel, Holidaybreak Group chief executive, said: “The group has performed well in the first half despite being impacted by the recession. The decline in consumer confidence has reinforced the trend towards later bookings, particularly in the camping division. We have taken and are taking the necessary steps to cut costs and restructure operations, particularly in the adventure travel division. Meanwhile, education, our largest division, is doing well and we are seeing signs of improved trading in hotel breaks.
“Current trading is in line with management expectations. We will remain focused on cash generation and keeping costs under control while developing growth opportunities which we are currently seeing, both for the short and medium term.”
* These results are in line with management expectations.
* The Education division is currently 95% booked for 2009 and 34% for 2010. Sales intake is currently 7% above last year’s comparative on a like-for-like basis. The new 428 bed facility at Windmill Hill in Sussex opened on time and on budget on Friday, May 15.
* Sales intake for the current year at Hotel Breaks is 6% below last year. We have taken out about £1 million of costs in the current year at Superbreak, primarily through headcount reduction in the call centre. Trading is improving as we begin to see improved supplier offers (lower room rates and train fares) coupled with better availability. We are also benefiting from an improved London show line-up compared to 2008. Oliver!, which opened in January, has sold well and has also led to increased demand for other established shows such as Wicked, The Lion King and Billy Elliott.
* Sales intake for the Adventure Travel Division is down 3% year-on-year (down 4% at constant exchange rate). Demand for adventure trips has been adversely affected by higher prices due to the weakness of sterling, although certain softer-currency destinations, such as Turkey, are performing reasonably well. A £1 million cost saving programme has been implemented and a further restructuring of Explore will take place in the coming months to ensure the business can trade profitably at lower volumes. Due to the adverse trading performance, it has been decided to partially impair Explore’s residual goodwill by £9.6 million.
* Camping sales to date are 1% down on last year in the context of a 4% reduction in capacity. The division is currently over 86% booked for the whole season, in line with our expectations and compared with 88% last year, highlighting the later booking trend. Yields continue to remain strong across all markets.