‘Trips of a lifetime’ steer holiday group Saga’s profit view

By Eva Mathews

(Reuters) -Holiday group Saga’s rosy revenue and profit forecast on Wednesday underscored resilient travel demand from retired and wealthy Britons less impacted by the cost-of-living crisis, its CEO said.

The London-listed company, which caters to over 50-year-olds, forecast double-digit growth in annual revenue and said underlying profits would beat market estimates.

Saga has benefited from a rebound in bookings for ocean cruises and travel packages after the pandemic. Those between 65 and 75 years of age, who tend to be the most active retirees, are looking to spend money they have saved, CEO Euan Sutherland said in an interview.

“I think that has helped our customers post pandemic to feel like they can go on trips of a lifetime,” he said.

“We’ve also seen very strong performance in our travel business where customers are going on longer holidays and bigger tours,” Sutherland added.

Shares in the group were up 1.3% at 0800 GMT. Analysts currently see underlying profit before tax at 28.9 million pounds ($1.21 million) this year, according to a company-compiled estimate.

Saga’s insurance unit – which includes its underwriting arm whose potential sale to Australia’s Open was terminated earlier this year, has been battling high claims inflation particularly in motor.

Sutherland said the short-term pressure was expected to normalize next year.

On Wednesday, the company said it had paused the process for a potential sale of its underwriting unit.

“While we had established terms for the disposal, the Board believes there is potential to generate greater value once market conditions improve,” it said.

In a separate statement, Saga announced finance chief James Quin would be stepping down from the role after nearly five years.

Mike Hazell, who was until recently the interim CFO of Britain’s Co-operative Group, will succeed Quin.

($1 = 0.8234 pounds)

(Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Jan Harvey)