Shearings Group, the specialist operator of escorted tours and leisure hotels, grew passenger numbers by 2.6% to a record 1.05m in 2013, reflecting strong demand from its core over-50s customer base. .
The increase in bookings, alongside margin improvement and cost reductions, led to a 6% increase in earnings (EBITDA) to 5.8m (2012: 5.5m), for the year ended 31 December 2013.
The Wigan-based Group has continued to invest in its coach fleet, hotel estate and systems.
Total expenditure on hotel refurbishments in 2013 was 3.6m (2012: 2.7m), while in the last 12 months Shearings has taken delivery of 68 new Setra coaches as part of a 16m order, taking its total fleet to 240 coaches with an average age of four years.
Overall net indebtedness reduced again to 7.8m (2012: 9.7m).
Turnover during the year was flat at 195m (2012: 195.6m) reflecting a changing product mix and the Group’s decision not to operate its ocean cruise programme, which contributed to sales in the previous year.
Shearings Group CEO Denis Wormwell says: â€œThis is the second successive year of improved financial results for the Group against a challenging backdrop of unfavourable weather in the earlier part of the year and continued pressure on consumer spending.â€
In the year to date, Shearings says passenger numbers and sales are ahead of last year, despite the wettest February on record. Total bookings are up 4% year-on-year and forward sales for this summer are up by 2% despite the continuing trend towards late bookings.
Over a third of the Group’s bookings are now made online, and it expects this to increase to 50% by 2015. Denis Wormwell continued: â€œThe ongoing rise in bookings and customer volumes has given us the confidence to continue the investment in our hotel estate.
â€œOver the next two years we will be investing nearly 10m in room upgrades and facilities which we expect to increase further our repeat booking rates and customer loyalty.â€