Rank beats predictions but profits slide

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Rank Group, the casino and bingo hall operator, issued better-than-expected full-year results yesterday, but still reported that pre-tax profits were lower than the year before. The group, which owns the Mecca Bingo chain, said that 2008 pre-tax profits slipped to £40.5m, compared with £46.2m in 2007, with the chief executive, Ian Burke arguing that 2008 allowed the group to stabilise after the smoking ban in England came into force the previous summer.

The shares closed the day down 0.8 per cent at 59.5p after the company said: "We remain cautious on the outlook for 2009 as economic uncertainties continue to affect consumer confidence," adding that it is "well positioned".