Shearings grows passenger numbers to record levels

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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: “This 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.”

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: “The ongoing rise in bookings and customer volumes has given us the confidence to continue the investment in our hotel estate.

“Over 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.”