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State of emergency slows Knutsford Express profit

Business reporter

Sunday, April 15, 2018

While many Jamaicans welcomed the state of public emergency in Montego Bay, St James, luxury coach service Knutsford Express Ltd reported slowed growth in revenues for its third-quarter report led by the city's lockdown.

The company, which has been recording significant growth in passenger and cargo business, showed growth of 14 per cent for the three-month period ending February 28, compared to growth of 18 per cent for the September to November quarter. Revenues for the three months ending February 28 totalled $231.7 million.

“We believe the increase was somewhat tempered by the establishment of the state of emergency in St James,” Managing Director Oliver Townsend said in a report to shareholders.

With 335 murders over the past year, Montego Bay has been described as a lightning rod for crime, reaching a stage of anxiety for the residents of the parish.

In February, the Jamaica Observer reported that a number of business operators across Montego Bay were offering huge discounts on merchandise to lure customers to retail stores. Additionally, throughout the international travel trade, news of the state of public emergency in St James also resulted in some cancellations of groups and incentive bookings for Jamaica.

In addition to the Montego Bay lockdown, Knutsford Express profit was also hit by higher fuel, salary and toll costs, showing a decline of 31 per cent to reflect net profit after tax of $37.3 million for the third quarter. Still, the company's investment in coaches grew total assets by 24 per cent, moving from $532.8 million to $661.8 million.

The luxury coach service is set to expand its New Kingston terminal facility. So far, it has seen growth driven in part by service expansion including new routes, more frequent schedules, and the buildout of Knutsford Connect, which provides airport transfers to include car rental for passenger,s and a high-end, luxury transfer service for corporate clients.

“In this quarter we also opened our Sangster International Airport Depot with its new and expanded facilities. The feedback from the customers flying into Montego Bay has been tremendous and we expect continued passenger growth as a result of this initiative,” Townsend said.