File photo dated 15/08/13 of a Mecca Bingo hall in London, as operator Rank Group has said Britain's decision to quit the European Union will have "little or no direct impact" on its performance. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday August 23, 2016. Rank, which recently pulled out of a joint bid with 888 for rival William Hill, said it will not be affected by the plunge in the pound as it is a predominantly UK-facing business. See PA story CITY Rank. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
© PA

Rank Group, the British casino and bingo hall operator, has pledged to further develop its business with plans to improve its digital products after efforts to purchase bookmaker William Hill collapsed last week.

Rank said on Tuesday that it had “a clear strategy for long-term growth” as it reported a 2 per cent rise in revenues in the 12 months to June to £753m. This fell short of the £757m analyst consensus compiled by Bloomberg.

Pre-tax profit grew 15 per cent to £85.5m, but adjusted profit, a commonly used figure in the gaming industry, increased only 4 per cent to £77.4m, slightly under expectations of £78m.

Rank chief executive Henry Birch — who would have become head of the proposed merged group — told reporters that the company could still do deals even after the end of its attempted £3.4bn takeover of William Hill in a consortium with rival 888.

“I was extremely surprised that they did not understand the rationale of the deal,” he said, adding that Rank would continue to look at dealmaking, “particularly the larger ones which involve digital”.

Mr Birch said he was pleased with the solid set of results, adding that “the board continues to look to the future with confidence”.

The company, which runs Grosvenor Casinos and Mecca Bingo, said it was “one of the few gaming companies in a position to provide customers with a genuine multichannel gaming offer”, and outlined plans to improve digital options including launching its own digital sports book.

The results were announced this week after its efforts to agree a takeover of William Hill forced a delay in their release last week.

Rank and 888’s plans for William Hill involved forming a new combined company, which they said would be Britain’s largest multichannel gambling company. The bid was rejected by Gareth Davis, chairman of William Hill, who dismissed the complex offer to merge the three companies as “based on risk, debt and hope”.

Investors on all sides appeared to breathe a sigh of relief after the merger was abandoned, pushing shares up. But shares in Rank are still down 22 per cent in the year to date, and the deal’s failure leaves the future of all three companies uncertain as consolidation continues in the wider gaming sector.

Rivals Betfair and Paddy Power joined forces in March while the merger of Ladbrokes and Gala Coral is expected to be finalised in coming weeks. GVC, owner of Sportingbet, bought Bwin last year. William Hill has been involved in a number of smaller deals including the takeover of betting software company OpenBet.

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