Eurotunnel enjoys record traffic despite Brexit vote

Channel tunnel operator Eurotunnel yesterday shrugged off concerns over any negative impact from the Brexit vote as it insisted business has 'never been stronger'.

Eurotunnel insisted its business has 'never been stronger' as it reported record traffic levels. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA

The firm said it notched up records for truck and passenger car traffic in the third quarter, despite fears the plunging pound would put Britons off travelling abroad.

But the group did confirm a hit from falling Eurostar demand after recent terrorist attacks, with revenues from its rail network dropping by 5 per cent to €74.1 million (£66.3m) in the third quarter.

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Eurotunnel said it carried nearly 289,000 fewer passengers in the three months to the end of September following the terrorist atrocities in Paris and Belgium – a fall of 10 per cent.

Eurotunnel warned in July that the Brexit-hit pound would affect earnings this year and next. But in its latest update the group signalled that worries over the fallout from the Brexit vote were overdone.

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“There is no sign of slowdown in the UK economy, the FTSE has grown over 10 per cent since the referendum,” the company said.

“Variations in the value of sterling have had no significant impact on our business in the past and the movement in exchange rates does not damage growth in profitability.”

While the plunging pound will mean sales in the UK are worth less when translated into euro, the group said the falls in sterling will help it “significantly” cut its debt repayments.

Jacques Gounon, chairman and chief executive of Eurotunnel, said: “These encouraging signs, combined with new records broken this quarter for the group, put into perspective the change in public opinion following the vote in favour of Brexit: our business has never been stronger.”

Eurotunnel said passenger traffic hit a July record of 317,424 cars – beating even the result seen in 1998, when the football World Cup was held in France.

Overall passenger car traffic rose 1 per cent to 2.15 million in the three months to September – its best third-quarter result since 1998 –while the group also saw its highest truck traffic, up 12 per cent at 1.2 million. It said group-wide revenues lifted 4 per cent to €320.3m.

July’s profit warning saw Eurotunnel cut its outlook for underlying earnings by €25m in 2016 and €26m next year.

Eurotunnel saw as much as a third wiped off its stock market value in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit decision, but has since clawed back some of the losses.

The latest update also showed a return to growth in its cross-Channel rail freight arm after a difficult first half due to the migrant crisis in Calais. Rail freight slumped 43 per cent in the first six months of 2016, but rose by 11 per cent year-on-year in August and 30 per cent in September. The group has spent millions on increased security to help secure the migrant site.