Over-50s group Saga sees growing demand for high-value holidays
The growing popularity of cruises and long-haul trips helped over-50s travel and insurance group Saga remain on track for another year of profit growth.
Sky News reports that half-year profits at the travel and insurance operator fell but there were strong sales for voyages on its new cruise ship. Saga said it was seeing increasing demand for higher value trips as it published results for the six months to the end of July. Its customers have also been having to spend more pounds on their holidays as a result of sterling’s weakness following the Brexit vote. But the currency swing also resulted in higher costs for the travel operator. Saga’s half-year pre-tax profits fell 6.3% to £103m though stripping out refinancing costs and the impact of losses on financial instruments, profits rose by 5.5%.
The group said it was seeing strong pre-sales for its new Spirit of Discovery cruise ship, due to arrive in June 2019, and that this backed its decision to bring forward the delivery of another vessel, Spirit of Adventure, in August 2020. Saga has also launched a membership scheme called Saga Possibilities and a new “keep doing” brand identity focusing on its customers’ “desire to lead a rich and full life, full of experience and opportunities”. Profits from Saga’s travel business rose by 63% to £11.9m while underwriting, part of its insurance operation, saw profits fall.
Chief executive Lance Batchelor said: “Saga is on track to deliver a fourth consecutive year of growth.” George Salmon, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Many of today’s retirees are asset rich and have comfortable pensions in place, and demographic change means this age bracket is swelling in number. “While this means Saga has a potentially lucrative grey emerging market in front of it, the challenge is to first get the customer onside, then effectively cross-sell its numerous services. “With its debts falling and the UK’s favourable demographics providing a tailwind, if Saga can get its marketing pitch here right, it could find itself in cruise control.”
(Article source: Sky News)