A programme of cost cutting has helped luxury tour operator Kuoni reduce first-half losses to £23 million from £30 million in 2009 despite flat sales.
Sales for the UK and Benelux fell 9.4 percent during the period to 30 June – dropping to £165 million from last year’s £185 million – due to a treble whammy of the volcanic ash cloud, British Airways strikes and heavy snowfall during the period.
Forward bookings up to August 8 were also 6 percent lower year-on-year for two regions.
Kuoni Group chief executive Peter Rothwell said: “Demand in the UK market suffered especially severely from the effects of the volcanic ash crisis, heavy snowfall and repeated strike action at the national carrier.”
Rothwell described demand in Europe as “muted” for the first half of 2010 due to the ash cloud, European debt crisis, strikes in Greece and the political violence in Thailand.
He added: “Despite the unexpected negative external influences, the Kuoni Group achieved bottom-line results for the first half of 2010 that are a tangible improvement on the same period last year.
“Given the stronger booking levels that we are seeing for the second six months, we expect to post a turnover that is a low single-digit-percentage increase on the previous year.”
“At the same time, sustainable cost savings and improved margins should result in an underlying EBIT margin close to 3 percent for the full year.”