FirstGroup ‘no longer able to provide guidance’

Aberdeen-based bus and rail giant FirstGroup plc said on Monday it is “no longer able to provide guidance on the outturn for the remainder of the financial year to 31 March 2020” amid the coronavirus outbreak.

FirstGroup said in a trading update: “In recent days the group has seen unprecedented changes in the market environments for all its businesses.

“There have been substantial volume reductions in our passenger demand businesses in North America and the UK.

“First Student has been impacted by the closure of almost all of the schools which it serves, while First Transit is experiencing significantly reduced service requirements.

“Government advice and policy in our markets is changing rapidly, and we are in very active discussions with many of our customers about future service levels and full or partial payments in lieu of reduced service.

“Given these changes are all taking place during a significant trading period for the group, we are no longer able to provide guidance on the outturn for the remainder of the financial year to 31 March 2020.”

FirstGroup added it will “continue to take all necessary actions to preserve cash through period of uncertainty.”

FirstGroup CEO Matthew Gregory said: “We have taken immediate and significant actions to preserve cash and protect our financial position.

“Our customers recognise this is an unprecedented situation, and we have led constructive and positive engagement with them, including with school boards throughout North America and across all levels of government in the UK and North America.

“Currently, the situation is changing day by day, and accordingly we are fully utilising all levers at our disposal to ensure the most effective management of our cost base through this intense period of uncertainty.

“We have significant liquidity, and a diverse portfolio of leading transportation assets that are critical to the 2.1 billion passengers we carry and for the communities we serve, both now and in the future.

“The long-term fundamentals of our businesses are sound, we have taken immediate action and will continue to do all that is necessary to ensure the group emerges from this exceptional situation in the most robust position possible.”