Kuoni UK bookings see steady increase despite group’s net loss

Kuoni is seeing a steady increase in UK booking volumes for the rest of 2009 compared to last year, despite reporting a net loss for the first nine months of this year.

However, group chief executive Peter Rothwell does not expect demand for travel to pick up until the second half of next year, based on current economic forecasts.

Overall, the group is witnessing a “slight overall improvement” in booking trends for 2009, with the UK standing out above other markets.

Bookings for Kuoni’s UK tour operating division for the rest of 2009 are 7% down in local currency terms compared to Switzerland, which is 15% down. Its group Style division for specialist holidays is 15% down, while the group’s Smart division for package holidays is 7% down, and its remaining markets 22% down.

For the group as a whole, bookings are 12% down in local currency terms for the rest of the year.

The figures are as of November 8, 2009, and include all customers who have already started on their holiday and further bookings until the end of the year.

Rothwell said: “Despite the adverse external influences, I am confident the Kuoni Group will post a positive operating result for 2009 as a whole.

“On the basis of the current economic projections, I do not expect to see a pick up in demand for travel products until the second half of next year.”

The outlook comes as the Kuoni group reports a net loss of 5.7 million Swiss francs for the period from January 1, 2009, until September 30, 2009, compared to a profit of 125.7 Swiss francs for the same period last year.

Underlying earnings before interest and taxes have fallen 81% from 121 million Swiss francs last year up to September 30 to 21.9 million this year.

Turnover for the period was down 21.1% to 2.97 billion Swiss francs as outside influences continued to hit sales. Turnover for the third quarter was 1.21 billion Swiss francs, down 21.3% on the same period the previous year.

Rothwell added: “The continuing global financial and economic crisis and the negative impact of currency movements depressed our nine-month results. On the plus side, further progress was made on the cost savings front with a positive effect on our operating result.”

The group’s cost-saving restructure is currently underway and should be complete by the middle of next year.

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