The Rank Group said Thursday it slipped to a £48.6 million (USD 66.7M) pre-tax loss in the last six months of 2020, and saw a 171% drop on 2019 H2 profits of £59 million. The owner of Grosvenor Casinos and Mecca Bingo across the UK said that when the end of lockdown comes, it will lead to a recovery of revenues and earnings.
The group's underlying net gaming revenue was down 58% from £371.2 million to £156.9 million although digital was up 1% to £66 million. Rank, which had made a £39.8 million pre-tax profit in the second half of 2019, saw its casinos and bingo halls only able to open for 45% of available days due to coronavirus lockdowns and curfews. “Customer demand has however been strong when trading has been possible,” Rank said. In addition, the company saw a 10% growth in active customers in UK digital brands.
In light of the pandemic, the board has not proposed an interim dividend but is committed to restarting dividends when circumstances permit.
Chief executive John O'Reilly said: "There is no doubt that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been far beyond anything we or any other leisure operator could have imagined or planned for. The ever-changing restrictions coupled with curfews, which in particular have a seismic impact on our Grosvenor venues, have resulted in an exceptionally challenging first half for the group."
"We have taken a stringent approach in applying affordability restrictions, particularly on higher staking customers, which has impacted revenues in our UK facing digital business in the half. We have been making good progress in the development of our proprietary technology platform to prepare the digital business for its exciting future. Once we have successfully completed the migrations of Mecca and Grosvenor, our in-house technology and development capability will give us much greater agility and speed in delivering developments, providing the group with a platform for growth both in the UK and internationally.
O'Reilly said there was continued uncertainty looking ahead, particularly as venues remain closed and there is no firm government guidance as to when they will be able to reopen. The group hopes that by the summer it will be fully open and staff will be back at work.
See Rank's presentation of the results here, and the full report here.