Express & Star

Mecca Bingo and Grosvenor Casinos owner returns to profit

The Rank Group, which includes Mecca Bingo and Grosvenor Casinos, returned to pre-tax profit in the year to the end of June.

The Grosvenor Casino at Walsall has had a £457,000 refurbishment

The profit of £74.3 million compared to a £107.3m loss in 2020-2021.

It was despite the second half of the year being adversely impacted by difficult trading conditions in Grosvenor venues, particularly in London.

Mecca, which includes several sites in the Black Country, is being reshaped to return to profitability with seven venues closed in the first quarter of 2022-2023.

The bingo hall in Telford's Southwater Square was sold last month for £5m. It closed earlier in the year.

The group's Transformation 2.0 programme is focused on improving the customer offer and growing customer numbers. It has delivered good returns from the £6.2m Grosvenor investment into new product and £5.3m casino refurbishments including at Walsall.

Net gaming revenue for 2021-2022 was up 95 per cent to £644m. There were significant periods of closure, curfews and regional restrictions in the 2020-2021 financial year.

Group underlying NGR is running three percent ahead of the previous year in the first seven weeks of 2022-2023. Underlying digital NGR has grown 12 per cent.

Rank says trading conditions are likely to remain challenging in the months ahead with high inflation hitting consumer discretionary expenditure and inflationary cost pressures, particularly the further rise in energy prices in recent weeks, continuing to impact operating margins.

John O'Reilly, group chief executive, said: "It was a challenging year for our UK venues businesses, with unexpectedly softer trading across the Grosvenor estate in the second half of the year. Our nine London casinos, which account for over 38 per cent of Grosvenor's revenue in normal trading conditions, have seen very weak customer volumes with overseas visitors few in number, and only starting to return in the final few weeks of the year. The lower than expected Grosvenor trading in H2 led us to reset full year operating profit expectations."

Mr O'Reilly said Rank was taking actions to drive further efficiencies in the venues businesses and was seeing strong revenue growth in properties which have recently benefitted from the accelerated capital investment programme.

"Performance in our digital business continues to improve against a difficult market backdrop. The transfer of the Rank brands to our proprietary technology platform is supporting revenue growth and a strong improvement to operating margins which we expect to accelerate with the migration of the Grosvenor brand in the coming weeks.

"We were disappointed by the delay to the publication of the UK Government's white paper on gambling regulation. The land-based casino and bingo sectors are in need of long overdue modernisation of the regulations which govern their operation, something which the Government recognised in its objectives for the review. We expect Rank to be well positioned to benefit from the review when it concludes," he added.

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