Casino owner Rank wants London to “get fired up again” as profits plummet

Casino owner Rank wants London to “get fired up again” as profits plummet

Gambling group Rank has urged London to “get fired up again” after being hit by the continued absence of high-rolling tourists and office workers at its casinos.

Revenues at Rank’s eight Grosvenor sites in London are running at just 40% of prior year levels since the casino industry was allowed to re-open last month.

While venues outside of London are typically seeing levels of about 75%, the capital is key for the company as it usually generates more than half of Grosvenor’s turnover.

Despite Covid-19 safety measures, including temperature checks and extensive use of plastic screens, the company has been frustrated by a continued lack of footfall.

CEO John O’Reilly noted a slight improvement in the number of office workers in the past week, but said it was vital that consumer confidence returned in public transport. He added: “We need to get London fired up again, that’s for sure”.

Rank also owns Mecca Bingo, with 72 of its 77 venues now open after the lockdown and typically achieving 70% of prior year revenues with visitor numbers running at 55%.

Customers aged over 70 have been more reluctant to return, but O’Reily says the size of bingo halls makes them ideal locations for a socially distanced trip out.

Rank had been performing well prior to the Covid-19 disruption, with shares at a 14-year high of 326p in February. They slumped as low as 85p in March and were at 131p today after rising 5% in the wake of full-year results.

Underlying profits were down 32% to £51.1 million in the year to June 30, although prior to the pandemic Grosvenor profits had been up 121% and Mecca down 4%. The group said it had secured waivers for its debt covenant test at the end of the year.