BUSINESS

Rank Group aims to be Britain’s biggest multi-channel gaming operator

TAGs: Leonard Postrado, Rank Group, UK, William Hill

If you can’t join them, beat them.

Rank Group aims to be Britain’s biggest multi-channel gaming operatorThis is the new business tact of bingo club and casino operator Rank Group as the firm set its sights in becoming UK’s biggest multi-channel gaming operator after a failed bid to take over Britain’s largest sportsbook William Hill.

The Telegraph reported that Rank, owner of Mecca Bingo and Grosvenor Casinos, is focusing on upgrading its online poker and casino games, launching a new bingo brand, creating a VIP microsite for Mecca Bingo, and launching a Spanish blackjack and bingo website, Enracha.es.

“[We are] putting in place the building blocks to transform its business,” according to Rank Chief Executive Henry Birch, which was quoted by the news report.

Early this month, Rank joined forces with online gambling firm 888 Holdings in taking over William Hill for £3.2 billion (US$4.22 billion). Hill spurned the consortium’s initial £3.16bn cash and shares proposal, saying it substantially undervalued the business.

Hill thumbed down a revised offer last week and said it saw no merit in engaging with the consortium.

With Hill’s final rejection, Rank has kissed goodbye to its dream of creating a new gambling company, BidCo, which aims to buffer them from the impacts of higher taxes and tighter regulations in the industry.

Meanwhile, Birch said he was pleased with the solid set of result of its full year revenue despite being slightly behind market expectations.

Rank’s revenue rose by 2 percent to £753 million (US$992.53 million) in the twelve months to June 30, just slightly below analysts’ prediction of a £757 million (US$997.8 million) revenue. Its overall sales increased 1.1 percent to £708.5 million (US$ 933.21 million) in the year to June 30, while its online business grew by 11 percent to £96.7 million (US$127.46 million).

The firm meanwhile posted a three percent increase in the like-for-like sales, which exclude the effect of club openings, closures, relocations, and discontinued operations across its network of 154 casinos and betting shops.

Statutory pre-tax profit grew 15 percent, to £85.5 million (US$112.7 million), but adjusted profit, a commonly-used figure in the gaming industry, increased only 4 percent to £77.4 million (US$ 102.02 million), just shy of expectations of £78 million (US$ 102.81 million).

“Rank remains in a strong financial position, possesses market-leading brands and has a clear strategy for long-term growth. The board continues to look to the future with confidence,” Birch said.

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