Rank softens year earnings as UK venues catch a cold 

Rank Group Plc has downgraded its 2021/2022 full-year EBIT profit guidance from £55m-to-£65m to the lower range of £47-to-£55m – having considered  Q3 trends that detail a ‘softness in venue trading’ and ‘continued inflationary costs’.    

The LSE gambling group has notified investors that it continues to monitor post-pandemic elements that are impacting the full recovery and day-to-day trading of its business units.  

Issuing a Q3 2021/2022 trading update (period ending 31 March), Rank registered group NGR of £156m, up 221% on 2020/2021 covid-afflicted results of £49m – a period in which all Grosvenor Casino and Mecca Bingo venues were closed.

A breakdown of unit performance saw Grosvenor and Mecca venues register respective NGR of £69m and £34m.  Yet, matched against the pre-covid normalised trading comparatives of Q3 2019/2020, Grosvenor venues NGR were down 14% and Mecca venues down 25%.

Rank underlined that pre-covid performance metrics were not achieved as Grosvenor and Mecca registered “a softness in visits at the end of the quarter consistent with the rise in new COVID-19 cases reported across the UK”.

Period trading saw Rank register no growth from its online business that maintained its Q3 NGR at £40m. Despite recording strong omni-channel uptake from Grosvenor customers, digital performance was dragged by Mecca Digital which recorded an 11% NGR decline attributed to the brand’s migration onto the RIDE platform in January.

Rank disclosed that performance from its digital brands ‘continues to be mixed’, with a growth of 42% in from existing brands on the RIDE platform partly offset by a revenue decline of 25% in the non-proprietary brands following the introduction of affordability restrictions in H1 2021/22. 

Period highlights saw Rank’s Spanish market property Enracha continues its recovery to normalised trading recording an NGR of £8m, just 2% below 2019 comparatives.

John O’Reilly, CEO of Rank, said: “The performance of our venues softened in March, and this has continued into the first few weeks of Q4, impacting our current expectations for our full-year performance.”

“We recognise the pressures on UK consumers but are confident that the improvements we are continuing to make to the customer proposition and the investments in our venues, alongside the gradually reducing impact of the pandemic and, with it, the return of overseas customers, position us well for the year ahead.”

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