Rank feels heat after mixed year

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The Independent Online

July's heatwave kept all but the hardiest punters away from the gaming group Rank's Mecca bingo halls and Grosvenor casinos.

Rank's chief executive, Ian Burke, said the "slow start" to the new financial year saw like-for-like sales dip below last year although its £179m acquisition of 19 casinos from its rival Gala Coral earlier this year meant overall revenues were higher.

Mr Burke remains confident despite the blip, but the results revealed mixed fortunes. Pre-tax profits fell 1 per cent to £65.1m in the year to 30 June. Within that, Mecca's operating profits sank 12 per cent as disappointing business from its venues failed to offset digital growth.

But gamblers left more behind at Rank's London casinos as revenues at Grosvenor rose 15 per cent to £300.3m thanks to a higher-than-normal win margin in the capital as well as a boost from the Gala casinos. Operating profit rose 19 per cent to £47.4m.