Rank Group, the UK’s largest multi-channel casino group, has been hit hard by the impact of coronavirus Covid-19, as have most businesses, but digital, in time-honoured movie fashion, has ridden to the rescue, according to its latest interim financial results for the year ending June 30.
Year-on-year net gaming revenue (NGR) fell 15 per cent to £585.1m (€632.06m/US$748.79m) and underlying operating profit also fell, by 32 per cent, to £51.1m (€55.2m/US$65.39m); while share earnings fell by over 50 per cent, from 15.3p to 7p.
Stated company ambitions to become a £1-billion-a-year operation by end 2021, correspondingly, have been a setback. But revenues from digital operations, in the UK, Spain and India, have seen a significant rise of 23 per cent and total a record £145.3m (€156.96m/US$185.95m).
Rank–once upon a time Britain’s premier movie producer, and still noted for its iconic “Gongman” logo–operates over 150 casinos in the UK, among them the legacy Mecca and Grosvenor brands; so the Covid-19 lockdown, with the closure of physical sites, naturally had a major impact on group finances.
In the eight months, ending February 29, before the break of the pandemic, the company saw a year-on-year rise of 11 per cent in its underlying NGR. Operating profit was up by a massive 61 per cent during this period; all indicating a hitherto successful management financial strategy.
Casino revenues since sites were reopened in July and August have now climbed back to 60-70 per cent of 2019 levels.
Meantime, on the social responsibility front, the company says it has made “significant progress” on embedding safer gambling protocols across the group, as well as providing support to key workers and the vulnerable during the pandemic.
For example, in April Rank joined with Blue Light Card in a dozen UK sites to offer free lunches to workers.
“Rank performed very strongly during the first part of the year,” said CEO John O’Reilly. “[But] the impact of Covid-19 has been significant.
“However, with the huge commitment and dedication of our colleagues, very tight cost control across the business and the support we have received from Government, we have carefully navigated the past few months and are now beginning to successfully emerge.
“We know the recovery will take time, but the underlying strength of our business provides us with confidence that we are well equipped to return to full strength.”