Num­ber’s up for some Gala sites

The Sunday Telegraph - Money & Business - - Business - By Bradley Ger­rard

THE pri­vate eq­uity own­ers of Gala Bingo are seek­ing to off­load some of its halls to rein­vig­o­rate prof­its as the com­pany read­ies it­self for a re­brand.

Cale­do­nia In­vest­ments, which bought Gala Bingo in 2015, is seek­ing buy­ers for some of its sites, as well as of­fer­ing some com­pa­nies the op­tion of tak­ing up ex­cess space in some lo­ca­tions.

Gala Bingo’s op­er­at­ing prof­its fell by 5pc to £746,000 in 2015, the lat­est set of avail­able re­sults, but pre-tax prof­its dropped heav­ily from £40.9m in 2014 to £1.9m, al­most en­tirely due to pay­ments from other group com­pa­nies not be­ing re­peated. In Cale­do­nia’s ful­lyear re­sults, re­leased in May, for the year to March, the in­vestor said Gala Bingo had “traded in line with our ex­pec­ta­tions at the time of the ac­qui­si­tion 18 months ago” but gave no more de­tail.

In­dus­try sources sug­gest the com­pany has been ham­pered by a shift by bingo play­ers – like other gam­blers – mov­ing on­line.

Both gal­ and gala­casino. com are owned by book­maker Lad­brokes Co­ral mean­ing a re­brand would likely be needed if Gala Bingo is to make a push on­line.

One source with knowl­edge of the com­pany sug­gested a brand name it was con­sid­er­ing was Buzz Bingo. In terms of its sites, it is un­der­stood to have ap­proached the likes of su­per­mar­kets Co-op and Nisa about whether they are in­ter­ested in any of the Gala Bingo sites, as well as gym busi­nesses Gym Box and The Gym, and frozen foods su­per­mar­ket Farm Foods.

A spokesman for Gala de­clined to com­ment on the re­brand but said that the com­pany al­ways re­viewed its es­tate.

“We reg­u­larly re­view op­por­tu­ni­ties to in­vest in our es­tate and cre­ate added value ser­vices for our cus­tomers.

“There may be oc­ca­sions where clubs are con­sid­ered for dis­posal but this will be on a case-by-case ba­sis.”

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