CEO departs abruptly at Aircoach owner First Group

Bus to rail firm’s chief walks as US Greyhound bus operation drags group to a big loss

Aircoach parent FirstGroup saw its CEO, Tim O’Toole, depart as it plunged ot a £327 million loss.  Photograph: Frank Miller

Aircoach parent FirstGroup saw its CEO, Tim O’Toole, depart as it plunged ot a £327 million loss. Photograph: Frank Miller

 

FirstGroup chief executive Tim O’Toole has resigned with immediate effect as the bus-to-train firm swung to a mammoth full year loss.

Executive chairman Wolfhart Hauser will take the hot seat while a new boss is found, with finance chief Matthew Gregory to be appointed interim chief operating officer.

Mr O’Toole admitted that the “time is right” to step aside, as the firm posted a dismal set of figures.

The company, which is behind Ireland Aircoach blue bus service as well as Great Western Railway in the UK, booked a £327 million (€373 million) loss in the year to March 31st, which compares to a profit of £152.6 million in 2017.

Shares slumped 13 per cent following the update.

FirstGroup was dragged down by a £277 million impairment charged linked to America’s Greyhound bus service, which it also operates. Greyhound has been struggling amid the rising popularity of low-cost airline competition, the firm said.

Revenue increased to £6.4 billion compared to £5.65 billion and First Group’s preferred measure of adjusted operating profit dropped from £339 million to £317 million.

Mr Hauser said the focus would be on sorting out Greyhound’s issues.

Earlier this year FirstGroup saw private equity suitor Apollo Management walk away from making a bid for the firm.

Its approach — for an undisclosed amount — was rejected by FirstGroup, which said it “fundamentally undervalues the company and is opportunistic in nature”. – PA