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FirstGroup FD bows out as profits leap

BRITISH train and bus company FirstGroup has said that finance director Chris Such has decided to retire and unveiled a 13% rise in annual profits.

FirstGroup said that Such, who joined the transport company in 2012 from Shanks Group, was retiring for personal reasons. His notice period ends on 8 January next year and the board said it has commenced a formal search for his replacement.

His departure was announced as the company, which was forced into a £615m rights issue in 2013 as it attempted to cut its debt pile, revealed that adjusted operating profit increased to £303.6m.

Revenues for the period fell 10% to £6.05bn due to reduced sales from its UK rail operations, but indicated that improvements in its US and UK bus services would “largely offset” the impact of its shrinking UK rail business.

“We currently anticipate strong progression in our non-rail businesses, driven mainly by the ongoing turnarounds of First Student and UK Bus, to largely offset the substantially lower contribution from UK Rail,” chief executive Tim O’Toole said.

“I would like to thank Chris for his commitment and contribution to the group since he joined in 2012. During this time of significant transformation he has played a key role in placing the business on a stronger footing for the future. We respect his decision to step down from a full-time executive role and he leaves with our good wishes for the future.”

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