Bacta numbers show industry “now running on fumes,” says White

John White Bacta Industry running on fumes
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New data shows that amusement businesses have been left paying the lion’s share of its pre-Covid operational costs – despite vast reductions in usual revenue. Many businesses in the industry are reaching the end of the road – support is necessary now.


Bacta has released the results of a recent survey which it argues lay out in painful detail just how high ongoing business costs continue to be for its membership, accompanied by a “drastic loss of revenue” which it says are “driving businesses to the brink.

Bacta CEO John White has said the stark figures, provided by a broad array of amusement operators, suppliers and manufacturers, highlight the degree of urgency with which the UK government must now act in providing greater support to the sector.

“It is shocking how high continuing costs are, as a percentage of the business costs faced during a ‘normal’ year,” he remarked. “Despite cost-cutting, the on-going cost base is very high and can only be met from reserves or loans in the absence of any revenue.”

He went on to confirm that businesses throughout the amusements trade are now “running on fumes,” and said that he had received word from many business owners that there may now be only “a matter of weeks away” from total financial collapse.

“We need a 5 per cent VAT rate from the Treasury – we’ve met with them to discuss this in a positive meeting last week,” he commented. “But there now must be an extension of rates relief – and in particular we must ensure the supply chain benefits from any support available.”

Indeed, as has been already documented anecdotally in Coinslot, the new numbers corroborate the personal testimony of AWP suppliers as being in particularly dire straits: with the data showing an almost three-quarter hit to their collated revenues (down 71 per cent), despite them still being obliged to meet over half (53.9 per cent) of their running costs.

Bacta figures

Meanwhile manufacturers and distributors, who share with supply carriers the unenviable position of being (largely) unable to claim business interruption funding, have been left paying over 62 per cent of their normal operational costs – which they are forced to meet on the back of just 41 per cent of their regular level of trade.

White described this ongoing discrepancy between maintenance and revenues as being “devastating” to business owners – but claimed to be optimistic that the government may well cede to Bacta’s lobbying efforts and “remove some of the burden” in the near future.

Still, in the short term, the singular saving grace to be taken from Bacta’s new industry figures was the picture they painted on job losses. White said that it was now clear that the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme had pulled the industry back from the brink of what was widely predicted to be a 50 per cent reduction of the workforce.

“The CJRS has definitely saved jobs and will continue to do so if it remains in place in some form as the economy gets going again,” he said.

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