Mobico Group finance boss to exit amid German rail accounting issues

  • James Stamp will be replaced by Helen Cowing, who used to be Fat Face’s CFO
  • Mobico delayed publishing its 2024 results twice due to accounting issues

Mobico Group’s finance boss will stand down in two months’ time after accounting issues prompted another hefty full-year loss.

James Stamp became chief financial officer of the transport firm in November 2022 but will leave at its annual general meeting on 11 June following a difficult tenure.

His departure comes as Mobico, which changed its name from National Express last year, finally published its 2023 results on Monday after delaying them twice due to accounting issues at its German rail division.

Bad journey: Birmingham-based Mobico Group posted a £162.7million loss last year, although this was 30 per cent down on the £231.2million loss recorded in 2022

Germany’s statistics office recently changed the indices used to determine the recovery of energy costs from passenger transit authorities.

Consequently, Mobico cut the profitability of its German rail arm to account for high inflation, energy price volatility, weaker productivity, and a train driver shortage.

This contributed to the Birmingham-based business posting a £162.7million loss last year, although this was 30 per cent down on the £231.2million loss recorded in 2022.

Ignacio Garat, chief executive of Mobico, said the extra work related to the division ‘was regrettable, but it is now concluded.’

Mobico’s earnings were further affected by £30million in restructuring costs, far lower Covid-19 subsidies and a weaker-than-expected recovery in UK bus passenger numbers amid drivers’ strikes over pay.

By comparison, the group’s UK coach segment saw customer volumes jump by a quarter, partly because of repeated industrial action by railway workers.

It also achieved record revenues and profits at its Spanish business, ALSA, with the former exceeding £1billion for the second year running, thanks to price hikes and a surge in demand for long-haul travel.

Meanwhile, ALSA swung back to a £121million operating profit, having registered a £170.2million loss the prior year owing to a major cash impairment from increasing discount rates.

Outgoing CFO Stamp will be replaced by Helen Cowing, who was previously the finance boss at food and vending operator Selecta Group, manufacturer Ideal Standard International, and lifestyle brand Fat Face. 

Helen Weir, chair of Mobico, said Stamp ‘has shown considerable dedication as we have sought to navigate the business through a challenging macroeconomic environment, managing the impacts of high inflation and adapting to a post-Covid world’.

Mobico Group shares slumped 6.2 per cent to a record low of 56.3p following the announcement of Stamp’s exit, meaning they have lost around 54 per cent of their value in the past 12 months.

They previously fell to an all-time low last October when the firm declared a profit warning and suspended dividends as part of cost-cutting measures.

For the year ahead, Mobico anticipates adjusted operating profits of £185million to £205million, compared to £168.6million in 2023.