NATIONAL Express said it was back on track after a recovery plan led by new chief executive Dean Finch sparked a 38% jump in annual profits today.
The bus, coach and rail operator highlighted its improved prospects by restoring the dividend it axed during a disastrous 2009, when it was forced to return its loss-making East Coast rail franchise to the Government.
Since taking the helm last February, Mr Finch has increased the focus on costs, as well as revamped the bus division and secured a franchise extension on its C2C London commuter service from Southend and Tilbury.
The company said the turnaround was running ahead of plan, with profits for 2010 up to £160.5 million from £116.2 million a year earlier. It pointed out the result was 15% higher than the market’s expectations at the start of the year.
Chairman John Devaney said much of the credit should go to Mr Finch, who he said had brought "clarity and operational focus" throughout the group.
"Following a turbulent 2009, we are rebuilding a high quality business, focused on its core operations and established on a sound financial footing," he added.
The company operates more than 1,600 buses and employs 5,800 people in the West Midlands and Dundee, while its coach operation serves more than 1,000 destinations and employs 1,600 people. It also runs transport services in North America and Spain.
Mr Finch joined the company from London Underground infrastructure firm Tube Lines.