Equals Group PLC (EQLS.L) Trading Update

‘Robust current trading against Covid-19 headwinds’

Equals (AIM:EQLS) , the fast-growing B2B focused e-banking and international payments group, is pleased to provide the following update on the Group’s trading for the six month period ended 30 June 2020 (‘H1-2020’ or the ‘period’) and also for the 14 working days up to 20 July 2020.

Revenues

Against the challenging background of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Group managed to achieve further growth in H1-2020, with total revenues of £13.7 million (H1-2019: £13.6 million*).

Excluding B2C Travel Money (cards and cash), revenues of £12.3 million were 23% ahead of H1-2019 (£10.0 million). The Group’s strategic focus on B2B revenue streams over its legacy travel money focus has enabled the business to trade well throughout H1-2020. B2B represented 66% of total revenue in the period versus 51% in H1-2019.

Overall, B2B revenues at £9.0 million were 30% higher than in H1-2019 (£6.9 million), while B2C revenues were 29% lower at £4.7 million (H1-2019: £6.7 million), principally owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

International Payments was the Group’s strongest performing segment, supported by the acquisitions of Hermex and Casco last year, as well as strong organic growth. Revenue of £8.2 million was up by £3.4 million or 71%, of which £0.6 million is attributable to organic growth. International Payments now represents 60% of Group revenue, compared to 35% in H1-2019.

Banking revenues were flat overall, although B2B banking began to increase in the latest quarter, benefitting from the FY-2019 investment in the Group’s technology infrastructure.

Revenue from the Corporate Expenses platform, the Group’s B2B card product, fell by 40% to £1.4 million reflecting the radically reduced corporate activity from late-March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, revenues from this platform have started to recover in recent months.

B2C Travel Money (cards and cash) revenue of £1.4 million (down 59%) reflects the Group’s strategic focus on B2B revenue streams and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic hitting volumes in historically strong seasonal months for travel. Travel Money continues to represent a smaller proportion of total revenues, it now being 11% in H1-2020 versus 26% in H1-2019.

Further detail on segmental revenue for H1-2020 versus H1-2019 as well as the percentage changes can be viewed in Appendix 1 below.

Inevitably there was a slowdown in Q2-2020 across all segments but there has been resilience particularly in International Payments. Revenue per working day by segment across the last six quarters can be viewed below in Appendix 2.

Trading in June 2020, and in the 14 working days to 20 July 2020 was encouraging with average revenues being £111k per day.

Travel cash business via both Bureaux and B2C retail cards has begun to pick up gradually and it is anticipated that corporate card revenues will continue to increase from current levels. The Board remains optimistic for revenue growth, particularly in International Payments, in the current financial year and beyond.

Employee numbers and cost management

After the considerable investment in development over the last 24 months, and the product and infrastructure improvements which have been made, the Board had already commenced the process of re-sizing the Group accordingly.

In addition, the change in economic conditions driven by the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in the travel markets, has led the Board to conclude that a number of staff will now be at risk of redundancy.

The combined consequences of these actions will reduce the headcount from its high point of 341 in December 2019 (as reported in the results for that year) by 15-20% net of a few new hires in revenue generating roles. The financial impact to the Group is that there will be a one-off redundancy cost of circa £0.5 million but offset by a cash saving to the Group of circa £2.5 million per annum.

A further examination by the Board of the Group’s real-estate expense, the second highest cost category is continuing, and naturally all other costs are constantly under review.

Outlook

The Group’s employees have transitioned to remote working well, with the investment in improved technical infrastructure benefitting the Group’s operations.

The decision to strategically focus on both International Payments and B2B markets has greatly helped the Group to trade robustly not only against the headwinds of Covid-19, but also the uncertain pattern of Brexit transition trading and the disruption caused by the FCA’s intervention in Wirecard’s UK business in late June.

Whilst the Covid-19 pandemic has naturally affected the Group, revenues are returning to more normalised levels in most B2B business segments since the initial impact in late March. The Board is pleased that overall trading continues to perform in line with management expectations. The Group intends to provide a full update on trading and to reinstate financial guidance to analysts and investors for the twelve months ended 31 December 2020 (‘FY-2020’) at the Interim Results, to be reported in September 2020

The Board believes that the Group remains financially stable and well placed to grow and capitalise on opportunities that may arise alongside the wider global recovery.

Notes

*Revenues from card rebates and similar in 2019 had been reported as ‘one-off’ revenues in the month they were recognised. H1-2019 has been restated to spread these revenues over the accounting period to which it relates. The impact of this change in recognition has been to restate H1-2019 revenue from £14.6 million to £13.6 million.

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