UK based betting firm Rank Group plc has announced its first half 2014 financial results, noting an increase in revenues.
Key financial indicators for the period ending December 31st, 2013 were:
Group revenue up 16% at £352.4 million
Group operating profit down 14% at £32.7 million
Group EBITDA down 6% at £54.2 million
Adjusted profit before tax down 23% at £27.7 million
Group customer base of 2.73 million - up from 2.3 million last year
Customer average spend per visit up at £25.53 (H1-2012: £22.52.
Offine-online crossover at 4% - up from 3.5% last year.
A 26% like-for-like dive in operating profit at the group's Grosvenor Casinos venues and a 38% fall in operating profit in Mecca, results predicted in Management's previous statement.
Adjusted profit before tax down 23% to £27.7 million (H1,2012/13: £36.1 million) due to weak trading performance, higher costs and interest charges arising on acquisition financing.
Cost reduction and revenue enhancement actions already in place to improve results in the second half.
The integration of 19 land casinos acquired from Gala in May 2013. The acquisitions led to a 34% increase in Grosvenor Casinos revenue to £194.2 million and an 11% increase in operating profit to £28.2 million.
Mecca's revenue decreased by 2% to £143.5 million as customer visits fell during the period. Operating profit plunged 38% to £13.9 million due to lower revenues and higher operating costs.
Investment of £11.9 million in new product and land casino refurbishments.
Interim dividend up 8% to 1.35p, reflecting the Board's confidence in the future.
During the six-month period the Group invested £29.7 million of capital. More than 80% of this was deployed in Grosvenor Casinos in new product, rebranding, refurbishments and conversions of the acquired casinos.
Net debt increased by £31.3 million during the period to £135.1 million principally due to the settlement of certain legacy tax issues, particularly in the VAT case against Her Majesties Revenue and Customs.
Casino Digital revenue improved during the period by 32% to £5.8 million. During the period Rank launched its new Live Casino offer, which has now become its largest revenue stream. Operating losses decreased by 50% to £900,000.
Mecca Digital revenue of £29.8 million was down by 2% in a very competitive market. Operating profit dropped by 40% to £6.8 million due to lower revenue and higher IT and promotional costs. However, the number of digital bingo customer numbers has grown driven by increased marketing and customer acquisition activity...but the frequency of visits has declined.
Mecca mobile revenues continued to grow strongly, up 24% in the period. Updated mobile (phone and tablet) apps have been developed and released with a focus on side game improvements. Mobile currently represents 22% of Mecca's digital revenues, up from 17% in the comparable period.
Management plans to focus on meeting online customers' needs by redesigning company websites and improving content management systems, games and mobile offerings.
The group's digital operations are preparing for the imposition of the UK Remote Gaming Duty in December 2014.
Attention is also being focused on investing in and strengthening technology capabilities, with the goal of creating an IT system capable of supporting multiple brands in multiple channels. The recently appointed and strengthened management team is set to achieve this by will achieve this by: reducing the number of third party applications, and improving the digital games platform.
Commenting on his company's performance Rank Group CEO Ian Burke said, "As previously guided, the first half of the current financial year was challenging with like-for-like brand performances down on the same period last year. The very challenging bingo market has contributed to a decline in the Mecca brand's performance as customer visits fell by 8% in the period."
"Despite the challenging start to the year against tough H1 comparators, we anticipate operating profit in the second half of the financial year, excluding the impact of the acquired casinos, will be broadly in line with the comparable period."