Buzz Bingo Group has reported an uptick in retail revenue in its first full trading period since the pandemic, but ‘significant restructuring costs’ have led to an overall loss.
However, with rises in online revenue and underlying EBITDA as well, CEO Dominic Mansour believes the operator has “the right scale and shape and also has the right protections in place for customers” that align with proposals recently made in the UK government’s gambling white paper.
Retail revenues for Buzz Bingo improved by 47.2 per cent year-over-year, coinciding with weekly growth in the number of new customers with half of those aged between 18 and 35.
The improvement goes hand-in-hand with the operator’s strategy of introducing bingo to a younger audience with several initiatives to ‘improve the customer proposition and deliver fun entertainment’.
Buzz Bingo’s online operations saw their revenues rise by 8.2 per cent YoY thanks to a ‘refocus on attracting recreational customers and enhancing player protections’ in line with what was recommended in the gambling white paper.
The operator added that early indications suggest online revenue will continue growing, as recent figures are 30 per cent higher than the previous year.
In April, Buzz Bingo also launched a new dedicated online casino website called Buzz Casino in collaboration with long-term partner Playtech.
Mansour commented: “We’ve come out of an extremely challenging period and while rising inflation and the ongoing cost of living crisis remains a concern for the entire industry, we have been heartened by the growth in new, younger customers with an ongoing interest in exploring different forms of leisure and entertainment, both online and across our retail clubs.”
From total revenues of £195m, Buzz Bingo’s gross profit came in at £137m. However, the operator suffered a net loss after tax of £53m, which is up on the previous year’s £52m after it ‘was impacted by costs of restructuring and other one-off costs including a non-cash goodwill impairment charge’.
Buzz Bingo noted that it has ‘focused strongly on driving efficiencies across the business and will continue to do so through to the end of 2023’.
It has restructured its head office operations for ‘a leaner operational cost base’, permanently closed nine retail locations, and begun an energy reduction programme that has already reduced energy consumption by 30 per cent.
“In common with the entire leisure and hospitality sector, we have had to accept the economic headwinds of inflation and rising costs,” added Mansour.
“We have met those challenges head-on, moving quickly to reduce and control costs so we can secure a sustainable and successful long-term future for our business. Having completed our efficiency drive ahead of schedule, our focus is now moving onto growing our omni channel business and we’re beginning to realise that growth across the business.”
Buzz Bingo also highlighted the investment it has made into improving player protections through its Athena proprietary framework, focusing on ‘the core bingo customer base of recreational, social, low-stake gamblers who prefer safe and low-risk gambling products’.
Customer vulnerability protections, affordability measures, enhanced risk protections and a £10 maximum online slots stake cap were all implemented.
Mansour concluded: “We now have a business that is the right scale and shape and also has the right protections in place for customers. This is the perfect springboard to continue our push to be the nation’s number-one choice for Bingo.
“We are committed to creating a fun, entertaining but also safe experience for our customers – both online and in retail – building on our many years of experience at the heart of local communities across the UK.”