Saga profits up 'ahead of market expectations' in Folkestone company's first full financial results since floating

Over-50s holiday and insurance firm Saga said its first annual results on the stock market were “ahead of market expectations” as like-for-like pre-tax profits grew by nearly 10%.

The Folkestone-based firm, which floated in May last year, saw its profits rise to £195.5 million, up from £178.3 million a year earlier.

Travel revenue was up 15.2% to £381.3 million thanks to an 11% increase in holiday passengers and a 6.7% increase in ship passenger days.

Saga building in Sandgate, near Folkestone
Saga building in Sandgate, near Folkestone

This was partly thanks to its acquisition of Destinology in August, which specialises in four and five star holidays to the UAE, Far East, Indian Ocean and Europe.

Its financial division, which announced in January it is buying motorbike insurer Bennetts, marginally increased the number of motor policies sold by 1.5%.

The company, which has 10.8 million people on its database, saw earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation grow to £227.4 million from £214.5 million a year earlier.

However, operating cashflow fell to £170.9 million, down from £196.7 million.

Chief executive Lance Batchelor said: “It has been a significant and successful year for Saga.

Saga chief executive Lance Batchelor was boss of Domino's Pizza
Saga chief executive Lance Batchelor was boss of Domino's Pizza

“I am particularly pleased to report that the business performed well throughout our first financial year as a public company and that our tailored products continue to resonate strongly with our target demographic.

“The current year has started well and trading is in line with our expectations and we remain on track to deliver on our trading EBITDA growth target of between 5% and 7%.

“We have a strong platform for success and I am hugely excited for the future.”

“We have a strong platform for success and I am hugely excited for the future...” - Lance Batchelor, Saga

The company also confirmed the appointment of Jonathan Hill as chief financial officer designate from New Ash Green based housebuilder Bovis Homes, where he was group finance director.

Previously he held various senior roles with TUI Travel and Centrica, having qualified as a chartered accountant at Price Waterhouse in London, now PwC.

Mr Batchelor added: “He will be a valuable member of the leadership team that takes the business through the next stage of its development as a public company.

“He is an accomplished plc business leader whose strong track record will underpin our growth strategy with a continued focus on a capital-efficient model and high levels of cash generation.”

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