SSP, the travel concessions operator, has reported a 3.1% like-for-like increase across its UK business for the year to 30 September, with revenue up 2.9% to £749.4m.

It said that like-for-like growth was particularly strong in the air sector, driven by continued growth in UK airport passenger numbers and increased spend per passenger.

The rail sector saw weaker trading, with lower passenger numbers and dwell times, notably in London stations. This was particularly marked following the Paris attacks in mid-November.

Underlying operating profit for the UK increased by 25.8% on a constant currency basis to £66.4m, while underlying operating margin increased by 170 bps to 8.9%, benefiting from good like-for-like sales growth in the air sector, and from the implementation of our strategic initiatives, particularly gross margin optimisation, where it said that the UK continues to lead the roll out of many of our retailing and procurement programmes.

In said that this year had seen the launched of a premium product range called “Fine Foods” in its Ritazza brand, whilst it has also had good success in extending the Millie’s Cookies brand to on-line sales and introducing a Millie’s bake at home offer.

It announced it had signed a deal with Itsu and the first site under the new agreement is expected to open at a London mainline railway station during the next year.

The group has also secured an agreement with Paul Hollywood to open a new bakery concept in the UK rail business during 2017. In total SSP now operates over 400 brands globally.

Overall the group’s like-for-like sales were up 3% during the year, driven by growth in air passenger travel and retailing initiatives. Net gains of 1.7% were made during the year with strong performances in North America and the Rest of the World.

Revenue stood at £1.99bn: up 5% at constant currency; 8.6% at actual exchange rates.

Kate Swann, chief executive of SSP Group, said: “SSP has delivered another good performance in 2016 and we continue to make progress on our strategic initiatives. Constant currency operating profit was up 18% driven by good like-for-like sales growth, further operational improvements and higher new contract openings. We continue to develop our presence across the world, particularly in North America and Asia Pacific.

“The new financial year has started in line with our expectations and whilst a degree of uncertainty always exists around passenger numbers in the short term, we continue to be well placed to benefit from the structural growth opportunities in our markets and our programme of operational improvements.

“Looking forward to 2017, with tough like-for-like sales comparatives in the first half of the year and the current level of general economic uncertainty, we anticipate slightly lower like-for-like revenue growth next year. However the significant structural growth opportunities and our programme to deliver operational improvements, leave us well placed to continue to deliver both for our customers and our shareholders.”