Lower visitor numbers weigh on Mecca Bingo owner Rank Group despite growing digital business

Alys Key
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Empty chairs at empty tables: attendance at bingo halls has declined (Source: Getty)

Leisure company Rank Group reported falling profits in its full year results today, as visits to its casinos and bingo halls declined.

The figures

Like-for-like revenue was almost flat, inching up one per cent to £754m in the 12 months to 30 June.

Digital revenue grew 15 per cent to £111.5m, but revenue from the group's venues fell one per cent to £642.5m.

Pre-tax profit dropped seven per cent to £79.7m.

Shares were trading down 2.5 per cent today.

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Why it's interesting

Like bookies such as Ladbrokes Coral and William Hill, Rank Group is struggling with a declining retail gambling environment and moving towards digital growth. But the group's online revenue still only makes up about 15 per cent of total revenue.

Rank is targeting further online growth, with the launch of two new digital brands, and by signing a sponsorship deal with Fulham Football Club for grosvenorcasinos.com

But the cost of running its physical Grosvenor Casino and Mecca Bingo Hall sites increased this year due to the introduction of a higher minimum wage and rent costs.

The group also said that it had lost visitors due to tighter restrictions on gambling firms to ensure customer due diligence, which had put off some gamblers.

The number of visits to Grosvenor casinos dropped five per cent over the year to 7.7m, while the number of Mecca Bingo attendees was down nine per cent to 10.5m.

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What the company said

Chief executive Henry Birch said: "We are excited about the roll-out of our new Luda bingo concept following the opening of the first venue on 7 August 2017.

"Additionally, the Group has put in place a number of digital, product and venue-based initiatives launching in the current financial year which we expect to drive top line revenues. The new financial year has started well and the Board looks to the future with confidence."

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