Knutsford Express doubles profits

To open routes in Portland

BY STEVEN JACKSON Business reporter

Friday, April 17, 2015

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The listed bus company, Knutsford Express Ltd will expand its routes to include sections of Portland amid posting $19.1 million in net profit for its February 2015 third-quarter which more than doubled profit levels a year earlier.

The move to include Portland would broaden its reach within the county of Surrey towards the north-east of the island.

"We are also preparing for our new north-east route which will continue along the north coast to the Errol Flynn Marina in Port Antonio. This move is in response to the transportation needs of visitors to the tourism destinations located in the eastern part of the island as well as the growing domestic commuter traffic," according to a notice signed by directors Oliver Townsend and Anthony Copeland accompanying the financials.

The jump in profits comes as revenues grew 40 per cent over the comparative period last year to $126.5 million from $90.6 million. This was due to a "growth in passenger travel".

During the quarter Knutsford continued to add new routes in St Elizabeth for passengers coming from Junction, Southfield and surroundings. The establishment of its Gutters office in St Elizabeth facilitated the route expansion, management stated.

The company now has over 105 departures weekly and has expanded its reach to Falmouth, Negril, Savanna-la-Mar, and Mandeville, having acquired competitor South Coast Express in 2013.

Total assets stood at $258 million from $202 million a year earlier due to a $50 million jump in property plant and equipment. Shareholder equity jumped to $208.6 million from $136 million a year earlier due to increases in accumulated surplus.

Knutsford Express operates bus routes that connect Jamaica's south-eastern city of Kingston to northern and western parishes. It offers scheduled coach transportation, courier service, private hire, and special-event shuttles. The company raised just under $100 million through an initial public offer (IPO) of 20 million shares or 20 per cent of the firm in December 2013. The listing on the Jamaica Stock Exchange Junior Market allowed the company to qualify for a five-year break on income tax.

The company started in 2006 out of a vision to revolutionise the way Jamaicans and tourists move between the capital city and the island's major tourism centre in Montego Bay. It came amid the closure of major cross-country airlines led by Air Jamaica Express. Townsend, an electrical engineer, came up with the idea while on weekly commutes to Kingston for an MBA programme. His frustration at not having suitable public vehicles that could allow him to study while commuting eventually led to the Knutsford. The service would provide a convenient alternative to the budget minibus service that existed. He raised funds by convincing a group of investors to share expertise and capital.

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