Hotels raise Stakis to pounds 11m

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A strong performance in its hotels division helped Stakis, the Glasgow- based leisure group, to improved profits in the first half, though the casino operations were held back by the success of the National Lottery.

In the six months to April, profits at the hotels division increased by pounds 3.1m to pounds 13m, boosted by a healthier occupancy level of 66.4 per cent . The average room rate also rose from pounds 41.64 to pounds 43. Stakis said the hotel market was quite bullish in London but patchy elsewhere. "Overall, we see the market getting better."

The Edinburgh Airport Hotel opened earlier this week and a management contract has been signed on the 90-bedroom Glasgow City Hotel, due to open in August.

Profits in the casinos business were down from pounds 6.7m to pounds 6.5m. Like- for-like sales were lower than expected.

Stakis says it is difficult to quantify the impact of the lottery on casino gambling but admits that the weekly game and instant scratch cards, which are taking pounds 100m a week, could be inflicting damage. Casino attendance dropped slightly to 1.1 million but the spend per head rose from pounds 119 to pounds 135. Two new Bournemouth casinos, which were acquired for pounds 1.55m in February, made a marginal contribution to profits.

A consultative White Paper has been issued by the Home Office concerning gaming machines and a further paper on wider de-regulation is expected later this year.

Gaming companies hope that the maximum number of slot machines per casino will be raised from two to six from the autumn. Further de-regulation is likely to include relaxation on rules barring casinos advertising.

Group pre-tax profits increased from pounds 6.6m to pounds 11.5m in the half-year. The interim dividend was increased from 0.65p to 0.75p, while the shares closed 2p lower at 86p.