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Expanded SeaLink posts loss following tourism downturn


Tourism and transport company SeaLink Travel Group has posted a $13.5 million statutory loss of $13.5 million after tax for the 2019/20 financial year.


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Buoyed by the acquisition of Transit Systems Group (TSG) in January, Adelaide-based SeaLink’s total revenue boomed by 152 per cent to $646 million for the year.

TSG is Australia’s largest private operator of metropolitan public bus services and the acquisition means the SeaLink Group now consists of 87 per cent contracted revenue and non-discretionary commuter transport.

The group’s Marine and Tourism divisions, which includes the KI ferry service and Captian Cook Cruises had a strong first six months of the financial year but had to wind back services during coronavirus lockdowns in the second half.

Group CEO Clint Feuerherdt said the acquisition of TSG had transformed SeaLink into an integrated, resilient, international multi-modal transport business.

“Despite the impacts of bushfires across much of Australia during January 2020 and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the result reflects the strong underlying nature of the essential services that SeaLink delivers to the cities and islands that it serves,” he said in a statement to the ASX this morning.

“Our performance is also a credit to our global network of transport experts who have collaborated to leverage international learnings and experiences, critically analysing and improving services, adapting safely and rapidly to changing and challenging operating conditions.

“While the public transport operations have continued to deliver in line with expectations, the Marine and Tourism division is understandably greatly affected by border closures.

“Exceptional cost control, a renewed intrastate marketing focus and sensibly bringing these assets back online has meant that the Marine and Tourism business has also delivered a positive contribution to the Group result.”

SeaLink moves more than 280 million customers per year, has over 8,600 employees and operates approximately 3,500 buses and 80 ferries around Australia as well as in Singapore and London.

The company reported that it has JobKeeper payment eligibility for about 15 per cent of its Australian workforce.

This year’s result is well down on last year’s $21.5 million profit and will result in a full-year dividend of 4.5 cents per share.

“The outlook for the group continues to be positive,” Feuerherdt said.

“A strong pipeline of bus contracting opportunities is being pursued, our tourism assets are unique and attractive to domestic travellers and our balance sheet strength positions us to take advantage of opportunities that are coming to market.

“I am particularly pleased with the way we are positioned to navigate the year ahead.”

SeaLink’s shares started the calendar year at $4.90 and fell to $2.73 at the bottom of the March downturn. However, they have recovered strongly to be trading at $4.72 at noon, pushing the group’s market capitalisation to almost $1 billion.

SeaLink Travel Group was ranked No. 22 in InDaily’s 2019 SA Business Index – an independent ranking of South Australia’s top 100 companies.

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