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Knutsford Express cuts fares, eyes Portland as new destination

Published:Friday | April 17, 2015 | 4:00 AM
File Oliver Townsend, CEO of Knutsford Express Limited.

Knutsford Express Limited has cut fares as passenger loads have increased, the bus company reported in its newly released third-quarter earnings report.

Knutsford, meanwhile, is planning to tap into a tourism market for ground travel on the north coast, specifically persons headed east to Portland.

The company last added new routes in St Elizabeth, and opened an office at Gutters in that parish to serve the south coast, and is now preparing to add another route from the north coast to the Errol Flynn Marina in Port Antonio - a route targeted at both tourists visiting Portland and locals, it said.

Sales have been climbing at the bus company, which reported a 40 per cent boost in third quarter revenue to $126 million for the period ending February 2015, compared to $90 million in the comparative 2014 period.

Sales performance over the nine-month period to February was even more robust with growth of 47 per cent to $333 million.

In the third quarter, profit more than doubled to $19 million or 19 cents per share, while it spiked by 85 per cent over the nine-month stretch to $48.5 million or 49 cents per share - some of which is linked to the company's interim tax status. A year ago, this period, Knutsford had a tax bill of $7 million but now it is zero, as its listing on the junior stock market in January 2014 has given it a waiver on corporate taxes for five years.

The company said in its preamble to the quarterly financials that the roll back in fares which took effect on January 11 was in response to declining fuel prices.

At the same time, it noted that there has been growth in passenger travel. The company said that new routes added in the third quarter with the establishment of its Gutters office "will offer service to a growing passenger base that comes from South St Elizabeth to include Junction, Southfield and surroundings."

Attempts at comment from CEO Oliver Townsend and Operations Manager Hopeton Thompson on what that meant for investments the company's fleet and the size of the fare adjustments were unsuccessful.

Knutsford Express' capital expenditure on asset acquisitions reached $64 million year to date February or $10 million more at this same time in 2014. The company closed the nine-month period with fixed assets of $172 million, up from $118 million the year before, and total assets of $258 million, up from $202 million.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com