The Dart Group is best known to the world for two of its leisure businesses, Jet2 and Jet2 Holidays. Jet2 is the UK’s largest short haul tour operator to the Mediterranean region, and the UK’s third largest airline (after EasyJet and British Airways) carrying just shy of 15m passengers in the last financial year.
Jet2’s strength and resilience lie in its focus on the leisure industry. The combination of airline and tour operator allows Dart Group the ability to control its own product ensuring cost savings, consistency and an end-to-end customer journey that brings back more than 50% of customers as repeat business. In the current uncertain climate, business travel looks to be the big loser with more and more firms discovering global video conferencing as a means to conduct business, rather than face-to-face meetings. Leisure travel, however, is expected to bounce back strongly in the next couple of years.
Until the March lockdown Jet2 were on course for a bumper year, and had increased seat capacity by 16% to take advantage of growing demand. However, with lockdown Dart Group were forced to take decisive action quickly. Leased aircraft were returned, team members furloughed, and discretionary spending frozen.
The underlying business looks solid with a responsible approach to financial management and a cash balance (minus customer deposits) of £0.5bn. They have no distressed debt, and long-term structured borrowing is secured on cash generating aircraft assets.
In May 2020, in addition to accessing a £300m Covid Corporate Financing Facility, they have taken steps to improve liquidity to allow for a one year shutdown, and to ensure they are in a strong position when the COVID-19 period comes to end. The equity piece of this refinancing was a cash-box placing of £172m.
May 2020 fundraise:
Sector: Consumer cyclical
Amount raised: £172m at 576.5p/share