Sceptre Leisure on the acquisition hunt

Leisure and gaming group Sceptre Leisure is looking for acquisitions after lifting annual turnover 86 per cent to £39.2 million.


Leisure and gaming group Sceptre Leisure is looking for acquisitions after lifting annual turnover 86 per cent to £39.2 million.

Leisure and gaming group Sceptre Leisure is looking for acquisitions after lifting annual turnover 86 per cent to £39.2 million.

Created in its present form through Orb Holdings’ 2008 reverse takeover of GamingKing, the Preston-based company increased operating profits 30 per cent to £3.5 million in the year to April after exceptional items and hoisted them 94 per cent to £3.7 million before exceptionals. But net finance expenses, mostly interest payments partly arising from the takeover, more than doubled to £1.9 million and pre-tax profits slipped by £200,000 to £1.6 million and earnings fell 38 per cent to 3p a share.

Ken Turner, chief executive of AIM-quoted Sceptre, points to the company’s success in making further inroads into the pub market, with a 33 per cent increase in business from that source, with bingo increasingly adding to the mix. The company’s machine numbers grew 18 per cent to 21,000, while asset use rose from 93.8 per cent to 95 per cent.

The number of pub lottery machine sites, replacing cigarette machines, and featuring Sceptre’s Lotteryking product ‘suite’ trebled to 300. In all, the company sold 55 million lottery tickets.

Sceptre, which ended its financial year with cash down by £1 million to £1.6 million, raised £5.5 million in June by placing shares at 35p with Hillroad Investments, owned by a determinedly anonymous rich man with interests in the sector, which now has a 29.9 per cent stake. The Gamingking acquisition, reorganisation costs and capital investment caused net debt to rise by £1.3 million to £19.3 million and the company, which renewed its banking facilities with HBOS (part of Lloyds Banking Group), says it is now in discussing future facilities.

Noting that Sceptre won ‘significant new business with high quality customers’ during 2008-09 and turned round its earlier Crown Leisure acquisition ‘within weeks’, Turner says that, despite tough economic conditions and pub closures, current trading has continued ‘along the positive trends established in the second half year’. Chairman Douglas Yates 
says the board’s strategy is to continue growing market share ‘through a combination of organic growth and acquisition’.

Nick Britton

Lexus Ernser

Nick was the Managing Editor for growthbusiness.co.uk when it was owned by Vitesse Media, before moving on to become Head of Investment Group and Editor at What Investment and thence to Head of Intermediary...

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