SSP has said it had delivered “a resilient performance” over the six months to 31 March 2021, despite revenue being down 78.8% at constant currency rates, to £256.7m.

Like-for-like (lfl) sales were down 79% at the food travel operator due to the significant impact of reduced passenger numbers, but it said that lfls were expected to return to around pre-Covid levels by 2024.

The business reported a loss before tax of £299.7m (under IFRS 16), compared to a £34.3m loss in 2020.

SSP said it had materially strengthened its balance sheets over the period, following a rights issue in April this year, and was in a strong position to benefit from the expected recovery of the travel market over the medium term.

It noted a gradual recovery of passenger numbers and demand, led by domestic and leisure travel, notably in the UK and the USA. In the first week of June, sales were down by 70% versus 2019.

A further 250 units have re-opened since the end of the first half, with around 1,150 units trading currently. SSP said that if current trends continue it would anticipate having 1,200-1,500 units open over the summer.

Simon Smith, CEO of SSP Group, said: “Despite the challenging trading conditions SSP has continued to deliver strong operational and cash control. Our teams have continued to give their utmost during this period, and I would like to thank them for their commitment and dedication.

“The recovery in domestic and leisure travel has now begun in a number of our territories, and our teams are busy re-opening units in line with passenger demand.”

He added: “Over the past year we’ve strengthened our competitive advantages and created a more flexible operating model. We have a strong balance sheet and can see many opportunities to accelerate growth as the market recovers and to deliver sustainable growth for the benefit of all our stakeholders”.