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Rank hit by Omicron but swings to H1 profits, sees recovery

Casino and bingo operator Rank Group said the surge in Covid Omicron cases had hit its venues in the first three weeks of 2022 as it swung to a first-half profit and tipped a recovery in trade with most pandemic curbs lifted.
The company on Thursday posted pre-tax profit of £84.6m for the six months to December 31. Reported net gaming revenue soared 88% to £333m after all Rank’s venues were closed last year.

Rank said renewed social distancing rules, the reintroduction restrictions in Spain and rising consumer caution over indoor hospitality settings negatively impacted trading in November and December.

“Our venues performed well following the reopening in May 2020, with revenues rising until the second half of Q2 when growing COVID-19 case numbers, the emergence of the Omicron variant and the resultant return of restrictions on consumers softened demand,” said chief executive John O’Reilly.

Rank said its Grosvenor casino business demonstrated high customer demand in the absence of Covid restrictions, particularly when the travel curbs on tourists were largely removed in October.

The Mecca bingo division was harder hit, as caution among older customers impacted visit numbers, particularly with the rising Omicron case numbers in the run up to Christmas.

It forecast underlying earnings before interest and tax for the year to June 30 to be £55m – £65m.

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