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Racecourse half-year results up, against the odds

Increased attendance and popular concerts keep revenue healthy

INCREASED attendance at Newbury Racecourse saw its turnover increase in the first six months of the year, against a backdrop of “challenging” trading conditions.

The company announced its interim results for the first six months of the year last Friday.

A 24 per cent attendance increase accounted for a rise in revenue, leading to a 10 per cent increase in turnover compared with the same period last year. 

The company saw overall operating losses for the first six months of £0.27m, a five per cent improvement on the same period last year (£0.28m). 

And, with no exceptional items to report in the period, the loss on ordinary activities after tax was £0.38m, compared to £17.2m in 2016.

Chairman of Newbury Racecourse plc Dominic Burke said: “In the first six months of 2017, we have continued to make good progress against our strategy of redevelopment and growth, with 10 per cent growth in total turnover.  

“We remain confident in the delivery of a positive financial outturn for the remainder of 2017.”

However, Mr Burke said that trading conditions for hospitality and conference events had been challenging. 

With no abandoned race meetings, 63,589 attendances in the first six months were up 24 per cent on the same period in 2016 (55,647) when three meetings had been abandoned.  

Olly Murs’ set at the Betfred Ladies Day pulled in 23,000 people, the racecourse’s biggest raceday attendance for five years. 

And more than 18,000 attended the Weatherbys Super Sprint meeting in July, which saw Jess Glynne perform after the racing.

Away from the racing, the housing development at the course is nearing the half-way point of its 10-year build programme. 

Around 600 of the 1,480 homes have been completed and 560 are occupied. 

Cash receipts from David Wilson Homes’ sale of properties in the first six months of 2017 stood at £1.95m

The racecourse said that the business would be less exposed to disruption as the development moves towards the eastern area, which it said should have a positive impact on trading.  

Conference and events revenues were 19 per cent down on the first half of 2016, with event days around 18 per cent down on the comparative period.  

The racecourse said that the completion of the new Owners’ Club in the autumn would ‘significantly enhance’ its small conference and wedding offers.

The Rocking Horse Nursery saw its revenue increase 31 per cent to £650,000 compared with this time last year; partly through increased occupancy of 12 per cent.

Gross operating profits for the nursery stood at £230,000 during the first six months, an improvement of £91,000 (65 per cent). 

Revenue at The Lodge, a 36-bedroom hotel, originally built to accommodate jockeys on racedays, was £270,000.

The racecourse said that average occupancy was broadly in line with its expectations, but did not provide figures. 

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