Sat, 18 May 2019
NEWBURY Racecourse has recorded an increased profit and turnover despite a drop in the number of visitors last year compared to 2017.
Total turnover in 2018 increased by eight per cent to £19.29m, up from £17.81m in 2017, while profit after tax increased by 52 per cent to £1.79m, from £1.18m.
The increased figures, published in the racecourse’s preliminary results for 2018, come despite a 12 per cent fall in raceday attendances (196,000 in 2017 compared to 173,000 last year).
The company said the drop was primarily as a result of two race meetings being abandoned owing to snow in March.
It added that attendance at Ladies Day in August 2017, which saw Olly Murs perform in front of a sell-out crowd of 23,434 people, was higher than last year’s event.
Last year’s Party in The Paddock events, featuring pop star Craig David and a Rudimental DJ-set brought in combined crowds of more than 33,000.
Further boosts came from conference and events revenues increasing by 22 per cent and a 20 per cent growth in hotel turnover.
The Lodge, a hostel built for racing staff which has temporary hotel permission, recorded a 20 per cent increase in turnover year-on-year to £710,000, driven by an average occupancy increase of four per cent.
The racecourse has applied to turn The Lodge into a permanent hotel, along with increasing the bedrooms from 36 to 80.
Rocking Horse Nursery revenues increased by 10 per cent, to £1.43m, helped by a three per cent rise in occupancy levels, with gross operating profits of £490,000, an increase of 18 per cent on 2017.
The construction of 1,495 homes at the racecourse is now more than halfway through, with around 930 having been built.
Cash payments to the racecourse of £3.25m were made from David Wilson Homes residential sales during 2018.
The financial loss following the abandonment of February’s Betfair Saturday, owing to the equine influenza outbreak, was mitigated through insurance.
Newbury Racecourse chairman Dominic Burke said: “2018 was another progressive and busy year for Newbury Racecourse.
“A year which saw positive financial growth in a number of key areas of the business and a year in which we completed our redevelopment of the external heartspace areas of the racecourse.
“Our redevelopment has delivered a first-class venue that not only provides us with a stage to continue to host racing of the highest quality, but also facilities which are well placed to meet the increasing demands of the modern-day consumer – from horsemen and racegoers, to conference and hotel guests, nursery patrons and local residents, enabling us to continue growing our well-diversified business and maximise the returns from our investments.”
Looking ahead, the racecourse said it was seeing strong sales for its two upcoming Party in the Paddock events – Tom Jones in July and Madness in August.
But while it said trading prospects looked satisfactory, the racecourse added that trading challenges were to come, including the £2 cap on stakes for fixed odds betting terminals, which came into effect in April.
“This is predicted to have a significant negative impact upon betting shop profitability and, as a result, there could be a material reduction in the number of betting shops,” the racecourse said.
“The implications of such changes on the horseracing industry remain difficult to predict, but it is very likely to have a material adverse impact on future contributions to prize money funding from the Horserace Betting Levy Board and the company’s revenues from media rights.”