Saga suffered a pre-tax loss of £61.2 million in the year to January 31, reflecting the £59.8 million impairment charge in its travel business as Covid-19 hit its operations.

The over-50s travel and insurance specialist reported an underlying pre-tax profit of £17.1 million “against the backdrop of Covid-19 challenges”, compared to £109.9 million a year ago.

It said its travel division is “reset and ready to operate once restrictions are lifted”, with “strong” customer retention and “high demand” for post-pandemic travel.

The group said total cruise bookings are £154 million for 2021-22 and 2022-23 combined, in comparison to £128 million at the same point last year, representing a 20% improvement. This excludes 2020-21 bookings that have been cancelled where the customer has indicated that they want to rebook but have yet to do so on a specific cruise.

It said its “cash burn rate” for the second half was at the lower end of its £6-8 million per month guidance.

Euan Sutherland, Saga’s group chief executive, said: “The progress we have made is clear in the resilient performance delivered by our insurance business and in cruise, where our high levels of customer retention show clear loyalty to our differentiated boutique offering.

“At the same time, we have been working to develop the plans to refresh our brand and to invest in data and digital to improve the customer experience.

“Looking ahead, while we are mindful of economic headwinds and the potential ongoing impacts of Covid-19, it is clear that there is significant pent-up demand among our customer base, the vast majority of whom have now been vaccinated and are ready to enjoy post-lockdown freedom.

“We look forward to relaunching our brand later in 2021 which will only enhance our ability to unlock the potential in Saga, returning the business to sustainable growth and creating significant long-term value for all our investors and stakeholders.”

In September, it confirmed a £150 million capital raising exercise including a £100 million investment by former owner Sir Roger De Haan.

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