STAGECOACH Group is hoping that a revamped website and soon-to-launch mobile app will help bolster its popularity among younger transport users as it eyes improved profitability in the wake of its European megabus sale.

Speaking at the transport company’s annual general meeting in Perth yesterday, chief executive Martin Griffiths said that with the political upheaval brought about by the recent Brexit vote leading to a tougher macro-economic environment, the business is focusing on the kind of demographical changes that are likely to have a positive impact on the transport sector in the longer term.

“It would be very easy at the moment to be negative and while there may be bumps along the way the fundamentals are solid and the long-term prospects for transport are good,” he said.

“The population will continue to rise and there will be growing urbanisation, particularly among the younger generation.

“The consumer has a choice and it’s important that we’re at the forefront of pushing forward a commercial case for bus and rail.”

In a bid to encourage the younger generation to use its services the company is ploughing ahead with a three-year, £11 million digital investment strategy that saw it unveil a new website for bus users at the end of last year with a mobile app to follow in the near future.

Like the website, which features an online booking system, the app will allow users to plan journeys, calculate fares and track the location of their bus while they wait, all of which are expected to be a hit with the tech-savvy Millennial generation.

In this respect the company is playing catch-up with Edinburgh-based Lothian Buses, which has had an app since 2013 and added live vehicle locations in August 2015.

Finance director Ross Paterson said the company is making the investment in its technology “as a response to the changing expectations of our customers”.

While lower fares remain a key priority for Stagecoach’s customers, Paterson indicated that the transport group could achieve a more favourable profit margin in the current financial year after offloading the retail part of its European megabus business in June.

In the year to April the company posted a 37 per cent drop in pre-tax profits despite turnover for the year rising by 21 per cent, from £3.2 billion to £3.87bn.

“The big increase in both revenue and costs was because it was the first year of the new Virgin Trains franchise, which brought in revenue of around £700m, while we were also investing significantly in start-up marketing for the megabus business in Europe,” Paterson said. “Those costs came to an end due to the sale of the retail business.”

Virgin Trains East Coast, a joint venture between Stagecoach and Virgin, was awarded an eight-year franchise for the East Coast Main Line in November 2014 and began operating in March 2015.

In Europe, Stagecoach sold the retail arm of its megabus business to Germany’s Flixbus at the end of June this year. While Stagecoach continues to operate a number of European intercity coach services as a contractor to Flixbus, responsibility for timetabling, marketing, pricing and ticket sales all passed to the German business as part of its acquisition.

At the AGM all 21 resolutions put to shareholders were passed overwhelmingly. Among the matters shareholders were voting on were the appointment of Ernst & Young as auditor and of Essential Fleet Services CEO Ray O’Toole as a new director.

Mr O’Toole is well versed in the public transport sector, having previously served as group chief operating officer and UK chief executive at National Express Group.

Stagecoach’s former auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers, lost out on the role following a competitive tender earlier this year.