European Leisure back in the black

European Leisure yesterday produced its highest profits for several years, although the pace of recovery at the disco and snooker club group continued to be restrained by consumer resistance to price increases.

"No increase in spend per head has yet been registered," said Ian Rock, chief executive, as he announced a turnaround from losses of pounds 500,000 to taxable profits of pounds 4.1m in the year to 30 June.

Investors, though, warmed to the results from European, owner of London's Hippodrome and Camden Palace discos, which was rescued by its banks in a big debt for equity swap last year. Shares yesterday rose 8p to 151p.

There is still no dividend, and no firm indication from the company of when payments will resume. Assuming full conversion of the preference shares, the company's bankers own 75 per cent of the equity.

All of the profits improvement came from the company's 43 discos and 19 bars, which collectively increased their contribution at the operating level by 47 per cent to pounds 4.8m. Disco attendances and turnover were up 5.5 per centat, aided by refurbishment of main outlets and introduction of pool tables to snooker clubs.

But operating profits from the Maygay amusement machine business fell 28 per cent to pounds 1.6m on further gaming deregulation and the impact from lottery scratch cards.

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