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First publishes ‘encouraging’ results against backdrop of Croydon tragedy

FirstGroup has today published results that show a steady increase in its revenue over the past year, despite the negative effects of the Croydon tram accident.

The company, who run a subsidiary that operates trams on behalf of TfL, saw revenue increase by 8.7% from 2016 to 2017, mainly driven by First Student and First Transit performing well.

Statutory operating profit also increased by 15.15%, and statutory EPS increased by 24.0%. First also announced a substantial increase in net cash inflow to £147.2m, which stood at £36.0m last year before rail franchise outflow.

The company stated that it continues to work with TfL and the victims of the Croydon tram crash to support ongoing investigations and help those affected.

“We report our results today against the backdrop of the derailment of a tram operated by one of our subsidiaries on behalf of TfL in Croydon on 9 November 2016, a tragedy that has shocked and saddened us all,” said chief executive Tim O'Toole.

“We are profoundly sorry that such an incident could take place aboard a service we operate. We are focused on understanding the exact cause of this incident and will continue to provide our full support to the ongoing investigations.”

O’Toole stated that the company’s thoughts remained with the families and friends grieving for the seven people who lost their lives, and those who were injured and affected by this terrible event.

“We are encouraged by this year’s improved financial results, with our largest division First Student delivering a significant margin improvement despite continued driver recruitment challenges, while our First Bus and First Rail operations have faced more challenging market conditions this year,” O’Toole added.

“Through rigorous focus on sustainable operational and capital efficiencies, we were also able to generate substantially improved net cash inflow of £147m.”

The First CEO also said that the award of the South Western franchise to the company was a good example of its focus on quality service improvements with customers and communities.

“Meanwhile, we continue to increase our use of technology across the Group to make it easier for passengers to use our services, and to deepen our understanding of our customers’ evolving needs,” he also stated.

“Looking ahead, our financial objectives are to make further progress while maintaining our focus on cash generation, despite the mixed trading environment in our markets. Overall this year’s results demonstrate the progress we have made in repositioning FirstGroup to deliver for our customers while creating value for our shareholders, commensurate with our leading market positions and scale.”

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