Nine Mecca Bingo clubs to close

Gaming company Rank Group PLC has announced plans to close down nine of its Mecca Bingo clubs as part of their strategy to “improve the quality of its clubs portfolio in preparation for the introduction this year of smoking bans in England and Wales’.

The nine clubs affected are in Fulham, Islington, Kingston-upon Hull, Liverpool, Reading, Sheffield, Swansea, Welling and Wolverhampton. Rank owns the freeholds of five of the clubs and said some of these would be sold. The remaining clubs are on a leasehold basis.

However, Rank believes that the close proximity of other Mecca Bingo clubs to these locations will ensure that the closures do not have a material effect on its profits in 2007.

Despite the closures, Rank will still remain the UK’s second largest bingo operator will 103 Mecca Bingo clubs throughout England, Wales and Scotland.

'A number of the freehold properties will be sold, crystallising value and allowing Rank to redeploy capital into assets with potential for higher growth and stronger returns,' Rank said.

Up to 230 jobs will be lost as part of the closures but Rank announced that those employees will be offered other positions in the company ‘where practicable’.

A smoking ban in bingo clubs was introduced last year and caused drastic falls in profitability and revenues for many bingo clubs. According to Neil Goulden, chief executive of the UK’s biggest bingo operator Gala, 46 per cent of bingo players smoked, illustrating the threat that the impending ban presents.

Editor, Jackpot.co.uk - 2007-02-14 11:14:30




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