Mecca owner Rank hit by sliding bingo hall footfall

Casino and bingo hall operator Rank has said it saw declining footfall and lower spending over the past year but told investors it is starting to see results from its turnaround programme.

The Mecca Bingo owner said it saw footfall in its bingo halls sink lower, while gamblers spent less in its Grosvenor Casinos sites during the year to June 30.

However, the company said it has seen positive signs after it began implementing a raft of measures in December to stem a period of decline.

Rank saw its figures for the second half of the year make slight improvements on the start of the year, despite cautious behaviour from customers.

Operating profits in the second half of the year were 20% higher than the same period in 2018, but profits for the whole year slipped 22% to £39 million.

The group saw like-for-like revenues stay roughly flat at £729.5 million and double-figure online growth helped to offset the decrease in spend.

Mecca saw like-for-like revenue fall 2% for the year after it suffered a 9% decline in customer visits.

Grosvenor Casinos saw sales slide 5% in the first half of the year, but they rose 1% in the second half as the business was boosted by new initiatives including a simplified management structure and reduced working hours.

The company said it also expects to benefit from its £115 million acquisition of online bingo specialist Stride Gaming, in a deal it expects to complete in the autumn.

Rank Group chief executive John O’Reilly said: “We are pleased with the group’s second-half performance and the full-year results, especially given the challenges we faced in the first half of the year.

“We have made a good start to the transformation of Rank and there remains a lot of improvement to be delivered.

“I would like to thank my colleagues across the group for their enthusiasm and commitment in delivering much-needed improvements in the ways in which we are meeting the needs of our customers.”

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