Brighton Pier Group blames drop in profits on rail chaos
BRIGHTON Pier Group, the leisure company chaired by under-fire entrepreneur Luke Johnson, has blamed disruption on the railways for a sharp fall in profits.
Engineering works and “recurrent line closures” have “significantly impacted the number of visitors into Brighton and on to the pier.
“As such, earnings from the pier have also been lower than expected,” the company said. Annual pre-tax profits will be almost a fifth lower than previously expected, it added.
Shares plummeted by 22pc to 49p yesterday, wiping more than £5m off the company’s market value.
They were trading as high as 188p in Nov 2014.
‘Recurrent line closures have significantly impacted the number of visitors into Brighton and on to the pier’
Christmas trading in the company’s bars division was “broadly flat” compared to last year, but trading conditions remain “challenging across parts of the estate”. This also contributed to the profit warning.
Brighton Pier Group’s travails will come as a fresh blow to Mr Johnson, its chairman and largest shareholder.
He has been the subject of waves of criticism after another of his investments, Patisserie Valerie, almost collapsed after a £40m accounting black hole was identified. Its shares remain suspended with a fraud investigation continuing.
Questions persist over whether Mr Johnson, the former Pizza Express and Channel 4 chairman, is “overboarded” – spreading himself too thinly across tens of directorships.
He has stepped back from a number of positions in an attempt to get to grips with the ongoing problems at Patisserie Valerie and its listed parent company, Patisserie Holdings.
Christmas trading in Brighton Pier Group’s bars division was ‘broadly flat’ compared to last year; conditions remain ‘challenging’