NEWBURY Racecourse has ann-ounced high takings for the first six months of 2016, thanks to a £20m one-off payment from a developer.
In its interim results, the racecourse announced profit after tax of £17.2m – compared with £0.28m in the first six months of 2015 – while turnover rose one per cent to £5.56m from the £5.49m recorded in the same period last year.
The figures were driven by exceptional profits of £20.1m from the final sale of land to David Wilson Homes, the developer building 1,500 homes at the racecourse.
The sale represents the minimum guaranteed value under the terms of the sale agreement from 2012, less associated costs.
Of the 400 completed homes, 99 per cent are occupied, and construction in the central area is now under way.
A further boost has come from the £493,000 revenue from the Rocking Horse Nursery in the first six months of this year – a 33 per cent growth on 2015.
The racecourse said that it was delighted with the improvements in trading performance at the refurbished nursery, including a like-for- like occupancy increase of 14 per cent.
However, raceday attendance fig-ures have dropped 27 per cent to 55,647, compared with the same period last year. This was credited to the abandonment of three race days and one less scheduled race.
Almost 20,000 people attended the Weatherbys Super Sprint meeting in July, which saw the band Simply Red return to the racecourse for the Party in the Paddock. Will Young pulled in a 13,000-strong crowd at the Betfred Ladies Day in August, while the Dubai Duty Free International weekend, featuring Mark Ronson, also saw 13,000 attend.
The racecourse said that enhanced car-parking facilities and the new bridge from Hambridge Road had greatly improved access for racegoers and customers. Conference and events revenues increased by 26 per cent, with the Lodge hotel driving incremental revenue.
The £20m ‘heartspace’ development is also under way, starting with the construction of the new owners’ and trainers’ facility, remodelled saddling boxes and parade rings. These are due for completion in summer 2017.
The chairman of Newbury Racecourse plc, Dominic Burke, said: “In spite of the British weather that caused an almost unprecedented three abandoned racedays, the first six months of 2016 have nonetheless been positive, with particularly strong performances in conference and events and the Rocking Horse Nursery, together with continued growth in media revenues.
“In April we completed on the sale of the final tranche of land to David Wilson Homes, resulting in an exceptional profit of £20.1m, and David Wilson Homes continues to make steady progress on the residential development.
“The £20m redevelopment of our own ‘heartspace’ is also now under way and marks another important milestone in the transformation of Newbury Racecourse.
“The board remains confident in the delivery of a positive financial outturn for 2016, in line with our long-term plans for the business.