Cabcharge says the taxi industry has a future alongside personal transport disruptors such as Uber after the cab company narrowed its full-year profit loss by more than $88 million.
Chief executive Andrew Skelton says Cabcharge is trying to lift its profile among younger consumers after recent moves to improve marketing and technology.
“We’re able to communicate with some of those cohorts and say, reconsider taxis,” he said.
The taxi payment service and fleet operator reduced its loss to $2.22 million from $90.6 million a year earlier, while its revenue for the 12 months ending June 30 rose 22 per cent to $185.5 million.
Mr Skelton said the company had lifted fleet size 28 per cent and investments in marketing had helped the company grow despite competition.
Uber has established a presence because it exists outside of the regulatory sphere and was able to cash-in on the demand for trips without being limited by the number of vehicles it had servicing the sector, he said.
“So the frustration people had on Friday and Saturday night when they couldn’t get a taxi manifested itself in competition,” Mr Skelton said.
“The taxi industry needs to find ways to expand and grow and service that growing demand.”
Loosening of regulations in Victoria has allowed more taxis into the market to pick-up that demand.
“That is a very dramatic fix to taxi industry growth, but what has happened there is proof that the demand for trips exists, and the taxi framework is a well-supported and very effective mechanism for servicing passengers,” he said.
Other states were still limiting the number of taxis on the road but NSW is beginning to reverse its policy of shrinking the fleet.
Uber and other ride-sharing brands had forced the industry to adopt technology and improve service, he said.
Mr Skelton said taxis are beginning to claw back a share of the market, particularly with Millennials, by increasing communication between drivers and passengers, and adopting mapping technology to assist productivity.
“We’re seeing a 74 per cent increase in app downloads throughout the year, a 40 per cent increase in app bookings in the second half (of the year),” he said.
Driver ratings also improved, up to 4.4 stars on average from 3.1 stars for 2017/18.
The company will pay a fully franked final dividend of four cents a share.
Cabcharge shares were down 18 cents, or eight per cent, to $2.08 at 1454 AEST after the company said it would maintain its current level of spending on technology and marketing.
CABCHARGE BEGINS RECOVERY
* 2017/18 statutory net loss of $2.22 million
* Revenue up 22pct to $185.5 million
* Final dividend of 4 cents, fully franked