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FirstGroup plc Trading Update & Board Changes
Monday 29 March 2004
Ahead of a series of pre-close meetings with analysts to be held this week, FirstGroup plc confirms that Group sales and profit before tax and exceptional items for the year to 31 March 2004 will be in line with market expectations.
We have had another good year in North America where strong sales and operating profit growth has been underpinned by maintained margins, although the conversion of US operating profit will be impacted by the weakness of the US dollar. In UK bus we have seen continued growth in London and other urban areas. Passenger volumes on First Great Western have shown encouraging growth and we expect an increase of about 5% year on year. We have made a good start with the commencement of the TransPennine Express franchise on 1 February.
The company expects to announce its results for the year to 31 March 2004 on Wednesday 12 May 2004.
FirstGroup also announces the following changes to the Board:
In order to simplify reporting lines Dr Mike Mitchell will step down as Chief Operating Officer UK with immediate effect and take up the post of Business Change Director. He will resign from the Board during the year prior to his retirement in 2005.
David Leeder, (38) who is currently Managing Director UK Bus, will join the Board as Director UK Bus on 1 May. David joined the Group in 2001 and has made a significant contribution to the development of the UK Bus Division. He will now report directly to Moir Lockhead, as will Jeremy Long, who was recently appointed Managing Director for the UK Rail Division.
In North America, Bruce Ballard, President & CEO FirstGroup America, and Everton Bryan, President First Services, will continue to report directly to Moir Lockhead.
Iain Lanaghan is leaving the Group later in the year to pursue other interests. He will continue as Group Finance Director until the end of May after the preliminary announcement of the Groups results. Dean Finch, currently Commercial Director, will take over responsibility from Iain for the finance portfolio.
Commenting Moir Lockhead, Chief Executive said "I would like to welcome David to the Board and wish him and Mike every success in their new roles. I would also like to thank Iain for his contribution to the Group over almost four years and wish him every success for the future.'
Moir Lockhead, Chief Executive 01224 650102
Iain Lanaghan, Finance Director 020 7291 0502
Michael Mitchell, Corporate Communications Director 020 7291 0504