Rank Group Plc welcomes a return to profitable trading, driven by the strong recovery of its Grosvenor, Mecca and Enracha (Spain) venues remerging their businesses from COVID-19 constraints.
Publishing its interim H1 2021/22 results (period ending 31 December), Rank registers a group underlying NGR of £334 million, up 90% corresponding to H12020/21 results of £175 million.
Period growth was maintained, despite Rank venues having to impose Plan-B social distancing measures in Scotland and Wales, and further capacity restrictions in Spain – taking caution of the increase of COVID Omicron variant cases recorded during the end of the year.
Returning towards near normalised trading conditions, Rank venues reported a period NGR of £241 million up 168% on H12020/21 results of £90 million.
CEO John O’Reilly commented on Rank’s venue recovery – “Grosvenor has demonstrated high customer demand in the absence of COVID-19 restrictions, particularly when the travel restrictions for tourists coming into the UK were largely removed in October, resulting in much-improved table handle in our London venues.
“Mecca has been harder hit, as caution amongst our older customer cohort has impacted visit numbers, particularly with the rising Omicron case numbers in the run-up to Christmas.”
Bolstering its venue recovery, H1 trading saw Rank Digital reverse its 2020 declines, as the unit returned to positive trading registering a period NRG of £92 million (H12020/21 £85m).
Digital highlights saw Rank complete the migration of Meccabingo.com onboarding the property onto the group’s proprietary-built RIDE operating platform.
Period trading saw Rank’s UK digital portfolio register a 7% rise in active player numbers supported by a 37% increase in marketing investment in H1 promoting omni-channel play with Grosvenor and Mecca venues.
The dual recovery of venues and digital saw Rank declare H1 interim profits of £24 million, reversing 2020/21 COVID-19 constrained losses of £42 million.
Ranks balance sheet has been further strengthened by the repayment of VAT refund of £83 million, helping the group expand its net cash position to approximately £225 million
Underlying its recovery across all units, in the second half of the year, Rank governance expects underlying EBIT for the year ending 30 June 2022 to be within a range of £55-to-£65 million.
Despite progress, John O’Reilly cited caution monitoring further developments – “The current COVID-19 restrictions have resulted in soft trading across our venues businesses in the first three weeks of January. The digital business is trading in line with expectations and meccabingo.com has already returned to pre-migration revenue levels.
“We are well-positioned to regain the strong growth momentum we had previously built up as we now come out of the pandemic. With most UK COVID-19 restrictions now removed, we expect trading to recover quickly across the Grosvenor estate, particularly when inbound tourism picks up. For the Mecca venues business we expect a slower build as consumer confidence gradually recovers. “