SBC News Rank prioritises safe venue return as lockdown drains group performance   

Rank prioritises safe venue return as lockdown drains group performance   

Rank Group Plc has revealed that trading under lockdown conditions for its most recent quarterly reporting period has resulted in a 72% fall in group like-for-like revenues.

This morning, the LSE gambling group published a Q3 2020/2021 trading and corporate liquidity update for the period ending 31 March, which stated that its Grosvenor and Mecca venue net revenues performance had fallen by 98%.

The Q3 period saw Rank record a 3% decline in its digital performance. However, the group underlined that it had maintained ‘sequential digital growth’ on its year-to-date results.

Grosvenor Digital NGR was down 2% when compared to Q2 while its Mecca Digital division continued to improve, with Q3 NGR up 4% compared to the previous quarter. 

Looking at Stride, Rank disclosed that NGR had increased by 7% compared to Q2 trading. Yo’s (Spain) growth also continued to accelerate, with NGR up 10% on Q2. 

Citing digital improvements, Rank stated that it expected its digital portfolio to return to year-on-year growth by Q1 2021/2022.

Providing an update on group-wide liquidity, Rank ended the quarter with total cash and available facilities of £89.8 million, comfortably maintaining its minimum covenant of £50 million.

Helping its venue operations during lockdown, Rank explained that its deferred rent had reduced to £13.9 million – down from £17.3 million reported on 31 December 2020.

During the quarter, Rank received a £13.4 million ‘duty refund’ following the Supreme Court’s decision in favour of another taxpayer on the treatment of free gaming chips. 

Rank’s cash reserve has been further bolstered by the sale of its Belgian West Flanders casino subsidiary Blancas NV to Kindred Group, generating £25 million in cash proceeds.

Updating investors, Group CEO John O’Reilly stated that the firm was focused on prioritising a safe reopening of its UK venues and progressing on its group transformation objectives.

“We have ended Q3 broadly where we expected to be and are now very focused on the reopening of our UK venues from 17 May alongside continuing to drive digital NGR growth,” O’Reilly commented. 

“Our business has inevitably been heavily impacted by the pandemic but, with the strong support and dedication of our colleagues, we are now very much looking forward to reopening our casino and bingo venues, welcoming back our customers and providing the great entertainment and omni-channel service in a COVID safe environment we know they enjoy.”

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