(Reuters) -Upper Crust owner SSP said on Friday its sales were recovering after a slowdown in recent weeks, when fewer people travelled due to Omicron-led curbs that hit its stores at train stations and airports.

The London-listed firm said it made an underlying core profit in the first quarter to December, and this month repaid in full the 300 million pound ($407.22 million) COVID-19 government financing.

The group said its sales in the latest eight weeks to Jan. 30 were at around 57% of 2019 levels, down from the nine weeks before that when sales ran at 66% of the 2019 levels.

SSP had lagged a broader food industry recovery from pandemic lows as most of its stores have been more susceptible to COVID-related disruptions to travel due to their location at transit points.

It still expects its like-for-like revenue and profit margins to broadly return to 2019 levels by 2024.

($1 = 0.7367 pounds)

(Reporting by Muhammed Husain in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)