VR Group's turnover increased slightly in the first quarter of the year (1 Jan. - 31 Mar. 2014). All business operations increased their turnover and operating profit compared to last year. Profitability improved due to increased turnover and efficiency improvements made to the Group.
"The first part of our year has started as expected. The VR Group is facing three major challenges simultaneously: historically large investments in rolling stock and their financing, tougher and more open competition in all business areas, and an exceptionally rapid rate of retirement in the workforce. At the same time the economic outlook has become more uncertain. We are continuing improvements in our business efficiency and competitiveness," says President and CEO Mikael Aro.
Turnover in passenger transport increased by 2.1 per cent and came to EUR 145.1 (142.1) million. In train and road services, altogether 26.8 (25.4) million journeys were made.
The number of journeys increased by 5.6 per cent from the previous year: road services increased by 18.0 per cent and train journeys by 0.3 per cent. The increase in road services was due to successful bidding for tenders. Journeys made on the Allegro line increased despite the fall in the exchange rate for the rouble.
The turnover for VR's Logistics increased by 3.2 per cent to EUR 111.0 (107.5) million. Operating profit increased significantly compared to last year and amounted to EUR 6.5 (0.6) million. The tonnage transported was 10.8 (10.3) million tons.
The transported tonnage in rail logistics grew by 4.3 per cent in Finland and in international traffic by 8.9 per cent. Transport volumes were largely affected by growth in transportation in the forest, metal and chemical industries, as well as strong growth in Russian traffic.
VR Track's turnover increased by 9.8 percent to EUR 47.9 (43.6) million. The profit for the quarter came to EUR -10.3 (-11.7) million. The loss is due to the seasonal nature of these operations: construction will start in earnest in the second quarter. VR Track's order book remained reasonably good.
Total investments for the quarter amounted to EUR 33.1 (28.4) million. The most significant investments were for restaurant carriages and logistics rolling stock. The logistics depot in Oulu, which was one of the largest of last year's investments, started its operations at the beginning of the year.
"We are preparing for the fact that we still need to make our operations more efficient, and at the same time, we are recruiting a significant number of new talents. The needs for improved efficiency, retirements and recruitment do not meet, and for that we need to focus on a centralised, integrated approach for the whole group," explains Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Timo Koskinen.
For this reason the Group has decided to temporarily introduce extended transition assistance to employees, so that equal treatment will be guaranteed in different units and across professional groups. The package includes expanded transitional assistance, re-employment training and comprehensive occupational health support.
The VR Group aims to act as a responsible employer for the long term, even through difficult times. The Group has already announced that its goal is to recruit about a thousand new employees in the next three years. At the same time, about 1,700 employees will retire in the Group.
VR Group is an ecofriendly, versatile company with responsible operations, offering transport, logistics and infrastructure engineering services.
The Group employs over 10,000 professionals.
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