June 30, 2020 / 7:25 AM / 7 days ago

UPDATE 1-On The Beach posts first-half loss; CFO steps down

(Adds analyst comment, details on results, outlook)

June 30 (Reuters) - Holiday package provider On The Beach Group on Tuesday posted a first-half loss, hit by cancellations because of the coronavirus crisis and said Paul Meehan would be stepping down as its financial chief, sending its shares down 2%.

The UK-based online travel agent said Shaun Morton, director of finance, will replace Meehan, who will depart on July 17.

The company said it was seeing encouraging signs of a rise in demand for summer 2020 leaves from mid-June as various countries across Europe eased lockdown, but it was cautious and still suspended it’s full-year outlook.

“Whilst a significant number of bookings have been or will be cancelled, we do expect that some holidays booked to travel from July 1 to Oct. 31 will go ahead as planned,” the company said, noting that most airlines are looking to resume flying in July 2020.

OTB shares were down 2.3% at 295 pence by 0719 GMT, deepening a near 40% plunge year-to-date and on course for their worst annual drop ever.

“On the Beach is well-placed to take market share. Pre-lockdown it had boosted brand awareness to unprecedented levels, and has spent lockdown progressing with key investments in technology,” Peel Hunt analysts said.

OTB reported total exceptional costs of 34.7 million pounds ($42.57 million)resulting in a pretax loss of 34.1 million pounds for the six months ended March 31, compared with a profit of 11.9 million pounds a year ago. ($1 = 0.8152 pounds) (Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Shailesh Kuber)

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