hief executive Ian Burke said the short-term outlook was clouded by economic uncertainty, but he added that Rank’s actions in response to a period of significant up-heaval in the gaming industry had stabilized the business.
During 2008, he said Rank steadied average weekly revenues, delivered major cost savings, exited its final salary pension scheme and achieved a substantial reduction in net debt to us$ 323.2 million. Rank, which has had to cope with the impact of smoking ban and new gambling laws since 2007, reported a 4% fall in operating profits at Mecca Bingo after revenues declined 5.4% to us$ 324.8 million.
Without the benefit of successful rulings on a number of VAT claims, profits at the division declined by 25.2%. Rank said Mecca Bingo’s like-for-like revenues were 3% lower in the first eight weeks of the new year, but excluding the effect of February’s heavy snowfall the figure was level on a year earlier.
Mecca said full-year revenues from main stage bingo declined by almost us$ 9.9 million to us$ 51.8 million as a result of lower admissions and the with-drawal of its rollover game, Mecca Millionaire. Having identified food and drink as a key area for improvement, Rank said it achieved an increase in spend per visit, although lower admissions meant overall revenues were down by us$ 2.2 million to us$ 31.6 million.
At Grosvenor, operating profits were down slightly at us$ 42.1 million, despite the negative year-on-year impact of the smoking ban. On a like-for-like basis, admission to its casinos fell by 11.5% to 3.9 million, although this was offset by a 10.4% improvement in spend per visit.