FirstGroup’s profits rise

Transport company FirstGroup reported a 13 per cent rise in annual profit and said that improvements in its US and UK bus services would “largely offset” the impact of its shrinking UK rail business.

FirstGroup profits are up

FirstGroup’s UK rail business suffered a heavy blow last year when it failed to win new contracts to keep running services on First ScotRail and First Capital Connect, and also lost out on bids for new contracts.

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The company posted an adjusted operating profit of £303.6m for the 12 months ended March 31, in line with analyst forecasts and up from the £268m it made in the same period last year.

For the coming year, FirstGroup said there would be a “substantially lower contribution” from its UK rail business but that improvements in First Student, which runs yellow school buses in the US, and its regional UK bus businesses would almost make up for it. FirstGroup also said group finance director Chris Surch had quit the company for personal reasons and the company had started the search for his replacement. His notice period runs until January 8, the company added.