Holidays sector boosts Saga profits

Holidays sector boosts Saga profits

Kent-headquartered over 50s travel and insurance group Saga has hailed "strong" results as an impressive performance from its cruise ship and holidays arm helped annual profits surge 55% higher.

The group, which is celebrating its 65th anniversary, said trading profits at its travel business rose more than a quarter - up 26.5% to £17.2m as its tour operator saw passenger numbers rise 10% to 189,000.

Group-wide pre-tax profits jumped to £176.2m in the year to 31 January from £113.8m, although the previous year's results were hit by £50m in costs from its 2014 stock market flotation and other debt and borrowing costs.

On an underlying basis, group earnings increased 5% to £238.8m as Saga also grew profits across its Saga Services insurance businesses.

Lance Batchelor, Saga group chief executive, said the company made "significant progress" over the past year.

He added: "I look ahead to the next period for Saga with a great deal of confidence.

"The year ahead will see a renewed focus on our customers and further developing the Saga brand."

Its travel business notched up an 11% rise in revenues to £423.1m, although its cruise ship load factor - a key measure of how well it fills its ships - edged lower to 84.4% from 84.9% the previous year.

Saga's insurance businesses also fared well, with motor profits up 17.8% to £118.3m as it benefited from rising premiums, which picked up pace at the end of 2015.

It also grew  motor policies by 3.1% to 1.2 million.

Premiums fell in its home insurance business amid a "highly competitive" market, but this was offset by a 2.3% rise in policy numbers, which helped profits rise 3.2% to £64.1m.