Rank recorded one of its worst quarters as land-based operations saw revenues drop 98 percent for the opening three months of the year. And the gaming giant had no doubts how this happened, citing “illogical” government responses to Covid. “Clumsily and inadvertently caught up in misdirected measures”, CEO John O’Reilly has moved on from the blame game. Focus is now fixed firmly on May 17.
Rank Group has reported that NGR for the three months to 31 March 2021 fell 72 percent year on year, after venue revenue dropped 98 percent and digital decreased by 3 percent.
Though the Mecca Bingo and Grosvenor operator benefitted from a £13.4m duty refund during the period, the full closure of all UK venues “heavily impacted” income.
“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,” said CEO John O’Reilly.
“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.”
Despite Rank being able to reopen its nine Enracha venues in Spain before the end of the quarter, capacity restrictions continue to impact revenue.
Though its online division saw some growth – with the Mecca Digital platform seeing NGR for the quarter increase 4 percent – a 2 percent decline in Grosvenor Digital NGR undermined any real positive financial impact.
Elsewhere, Rank has managed to reduce the amount of deferred rent owed from £17.3m in December to £13.9m, aided by a £70m share issue in November, and the sale of its Belgian property Blankenberge casino to Kindred Group for £25m.
A £13.4m duty refund in the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent decision on the treatment of free gaming chips also helped mitigate losses.
However the impact of the pandemic on its UK retail estate, shuttered for 45 percent of working days during the second half of 2020, has had the biggest impact, with the company reporting a £42m loss for the period, in comparison to a £59m profit the previous year.
“We have been clumsily and inadvertently caught up in misdirected measures that do nothing to suppress the virus,” O’Reilly told the Daily Mail in October, criticising “illogical” government measures that put “thousands of jobs and livelihoods at risk.”