Chairman's statement

"2020 has, without a doubt, been an unprecedented year for both society in general and businesses everywhere around the world. The impact of Covid-19 has been particularly hard for transport companies, with national and local lockdowns in every market necessitating significant travel restrictions – and even when lockdowns were lifted, the guidance from many governments was for people not to travel and to stay at home wherever possible."

Sir John Armitt

We were performing strongly before the crisis with revenue up 17% year-on-year in the first 2 months of the year.

As the pandemic hit we saw an 80% drop in passenger demand following lockdown. We mitigated this through proactive customer engagement, limiting revenue loss to 50% and taking swift action to reduce service to save variable costs.

Download the Annual Report 2020

"We proactively engaged with customers and authorities in order to secure support and limit revenue loss and we took swift and decisive action to adjust the cost base to limit the flow-through of revenue decline." - Ignacio Garat, Group CEO

An unprecedented year

Our response to Covid-19
  • We ensured the safety and wellbeing of our staff and customers
  • We ensured the Group has sufficient liquidity
  • We rapidly adjusted the cost base
  • We secured customer and government support
  • We built agility in our businesses to respond to changing circumstances.

Our 2020 timeline

Our 2020 timeline

    • 20 January
      − First case confirmed in the USA
    • 29 January
      − First case confirmed in the UK
    • 31 January
      − First case confirmed in Spain
  • February
    - National Express Group reports record 2019 results
  • 11 March − WHO declares a pandemic
  • 13 March − USA declares a national emergency and states start to close schools
  • 14 March − Spain declares lockdown and approves ERTE (furlough) scheme
  • 16 March − Restrictions on public gatherings introduced − UK Government urges people to work from home and avoid unnecessary travel
  • 20 March − UK Job Retention Scheme announced
  • 23 March − UK declares three-week lockdown
  • 27 March − US introduce $2 trillion CARES Act stimulus bill
  • 30 March − Majority of US States issues ‘stay at home’ directives


  • 3 April
    − UK regional bus funding package announced
    − £600m CCFF approved
    − £200m additional bank funding secured
    − Moody’s and Fitch maintain ratings at Baa2/BBB
    − Covenant waivers agreed
    − £414m US private placement drawn down
  • May
    - Share placing raises £230m
  • 9 June
    − USA states start to roll back lockdowns
  • 21 June
    − Spain ends the state of alarm
    − National Express announces Dean Finch to stand down
  • 17 July
    − UK Government removes advice to avoid public transport
    − Further covenant waiver/amendments agreed
  • August
    − Dean Finch leaves, Chris Davies appointed interim Group CEO
  • 14 September
    − New social distancing policies enacted in the UK (including the ‘rule of six’)
  • 22 September
    − UK Government reinstates guidance to work from home
  • 30 September
    − Spanish ERTE scheme extended until 31 January 2021
  • 14 October
    − Tiered local lockdowns enforced in the UK
  • 25 October
    − State of alarm re‑imposed across Spain
  • 5 November
    − Second lockdown introduced in the UK
    − UK furlough scheme extended to 31 March 2021
    − £500m hybrid capital issuance
    − Ignacio Garat appointed Group CEO
  • 2 December
    − End of second lockdown and introduction of local tiers limiting mobility
  • 8 December
    − Margaret Keenan becomes the first person in the world to receive a clinically approved vaccine
  • 19 December
    − Majority of people in England under tier 4 travel restrictions
We've set the exit trajectory to emerge stronger

We are confident that our reputation for service and safety, close relationships with customers and improved Balance Sheet mean we are well placed to prosper post pandemic.

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We've set the exit trajectory to emerge stronger

We are confident that our reputation for service and safety, close relationships with customers and improved Balance Sheet mean we are well placed to prosper post pandemic.

During the period we have secured nearly £900 million of contracted revenue:

  • We retained our CalPita regional concession for at least a further 10 years
  • We had significant school bus wins in Boise, Idaho; Fairbanks, Alaska; and Oakland, California
  • We won a school bus contract where a small operator went into liquidation and where a competitor fell out with the customer in dealing with Covid-19

We have also seen an increase in school boards contacting us to explore the potential outsourcing of their in-house services

  • We won a capital-light paratransit contract for up to five years in North Carolina
  • We won two seven-year urban bus contracts in Portugal, a new market
2020 performance

The pandemic had an immediate and unprecendented impact .

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The pandemic had an immediate and unprecendented impact . Nothwithstanding the multitude of actions taken, we could not mitigate the significant level of reduced demand for our services, and delivered our first operating loss in 11 years.

As a result of the actions taken, we experienced a steady improvement over the second half of the year, despite further sporadcic restrictions being imposed, and as a result delivered EBITDA towards the top end of our guidance

The financial position of the Group remains strong and, boosted by the share placing and hybrid issuance, we have ended the year with around £280m less debt than we had at the start of the year.

  • Decisive action taken to reduce costs and conserve cash
  • £187m EBITDA - towards the top of the range for guidance
  • H2 free cash flow positive and net debt reduced to £942m
  • £1.5bn of equity and additional borrowing facilities raised
  • £1.9bn in cash, undrawn committed facilities and undrawn CCFF available
  • Improving trajectory into 2021 with strong Q4 revenue, EBITDA and cash flow

Download the full financial review

Ready to emerge strongly from the crisis
  • We remain excited by the long-term opportunity.
  • Public transport will continue to play a key role in social mobility as well as a key solution in tackling cleaner air and congestion issues.
  • Our strong reputation for service and safety, close relationships with customers and improved Balance Sheet mean we are well placed to prosper post pandemic.
New Leadership

2020 has also been a time of significant change for National Express, specifically in terms of leadership.

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New Leadership

  • Dean Finch announced his resignation as Group CEO in June
  • Ignacio Garat joined the Group on 1 November, bringing with him an extensive international operational and strategic experience. His priorities for the first few months were:
    • Ensure we continue to navigate the pandemic and are positioned to capitalise as restrictions lift
    • Engaged widely with over 2,000 colleagues across the Group
    • Visited all our buisinesses and met key stakeholders: customers, shareholders and government officials
    • Ensure we continue to have high levels of financial and operational control
    • Focus on the 'big deltas' for 2021 as restrictions are lifted

View Ignacio Garat's bio

Divisional review

Financial overview

Group Income Statement, Group Balance Sheet, Group Cash Flow Statement & Five Year Summary

2020 Financial review

Decisive action taken to reduce costs and conserve cash.

Investment case

Driving our business forward in sustainable and growing markets