Brighton Pier Group blames drop in prof­its on rail chaos

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Oliver Gill

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’

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