Our sincere and heartfelt thanks to Sir John Armitt CBE
I am delighted to be presenting my first review to you since I took over as Chair from Sir John Armitt on 1 January 2023.
Before I go further, I would like to take the opportunity, on behalf of us all, to say a sincere and heartfelt thank you to Sir John, who provided exemplary leadership of National Express over the last 10 years. Sir John will forever be a part of the history of the Company and helped navigate National Express through many challenges and opportunities in his time as Chairman. His wise counsel will be missed.
I am honoured to be taking over the stewardship of National Express from Sir John and to be serving a business that has a strong purpose, to drive modal shift, a clear strategy in Evolve and an exciting pipeline of growth opportunities.
1 March 2023
The external environment this year has been volatile. The war in Ukraine has driven energy supply concerns resulting in energy prices rising to unprecedented levels. We have also seen the return of inflation and interest rates at levels not seen for a generation, with continuing tight labour markets impacting our ability to deliver all of the services we would like to.
Despite these short-term headwinds, each of our business divisions has delivered strong revenue growth, demonstrating both resilience and agility.
I would also like to take the opportunity to say thank you, on behalf of myself and the Board, to all of our colleagues around the world who have worked tirelessly through what has been another challenging year, to deliver first class services for our passengers and customers and a performance that we can all feel proud of.
A clear strategy for growth
I have been greatly impressed by the focus on safety which is embedded in our culture and at every level of the business.
Decarbonisation of the Fleet Gaining Momentum
I am particularly pleased to see that the pace of the decarbonisation of our fleet has gained momentum this year. We now have plans approved across the Group for 1,500 zero emissions vehicles (‘ZEV’) by 2024, increasing to 14,500 by 2030.
Employer of choice
An important part of our Evolve strategy is to be as an employer of choice. I am very pleased that we completed our first global employee engagement survey in 2022, delivering a 77% response rate. Key results from the survey included 80% of colleagues recognising our commitment to safety; 76% of colleagues agreeing that we promote Diversity, Equality and Inclusion and 65% indicating that they are proud of our brands. Nevertheless, there is more work to do to drive improvements on the +7 eNPS score and this will be a focus of attention for the coming year.
Financial Performance and Dividend
It has been pleasing to see passenger demand returning, with strong out-turn particularly in the UK and ALSA.
The year ahead
The Evolve strategy will continue to underpin our progress in 2023 and we are well positioned to capitalise on our pipeline of growth opportunities. We will continue to focus on actions which enable us to manage the volatile external environment, in particular, tight cost management and a focus on cash generation which will enable us to reduce our leverage. This will not only enable us to mitigate the impact of increasing interest rates, but will also allow us to take full advantage of the growth opportunities where identified.