Travel food outlet operator SSP (SSPG) fell 4.7% to 252.1p as it announced the departure of its chief executive and updated on trading.

The company revealed chief executive Simon Smith would stand down to pursue a new opportunity at a private equity backed business.

Smith is expected to leave at the end of 2021.

'The board will now commence a process to identify Simon's successor, and the search process will consider both internal and external candidates,' SSP said.

While the company pointed to a recovery in passenger demand thanks to domestic and leisure travel, particularly in North America, trading in its third quarter was just 27% of 2019 levels and the outlook for the full year remains unchanged.

UPTICK IN TRADING

Signs of a recent more marked uptick could be seen in the progression from 30% of 2019 levels at the beginning of June to 42% in the most recent week.

SSP runs outlets in airports and train stations under its own brands like Upper Crust and Camden Food Co as well as third party chains like Burger King and Starbucks.

Shore Capital analyst Greg Johnson commented: ‘Mr Smith is due to leave the group at the end of 2021, supporting an orderly transition. Given the DNA of the business, internal candidates are likely to feature strongly on the list of candidates to succeed him.

‘Although disappointed to see Mr Smith’s departure and wish him well, having handled the difficulties of the last 16 months well, in the most challenging of circumstances. In the near term, the reopening programme is set to continue as planned, supported by its decentralised operations and highly experienced regional management team.’

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Issue Date: 14 Jul 2021