altRecently, the UK has seen some rather extreme weather conditions thrown at it. One minute, it’s been hail, then snow, followed by torrential rain, high winds, and then more snow and ice. This has caused travel issues and loss of earnings for individuals and businesses alike around Britain. Financial experts and business owners now fear that if the spell of bad weather continues, it may affect the economy further, pushing us back into a recession. One such company who’s seen their profits take a dive as a result of the heavy winter snow is the Rank Group – who own online offerings and land-based clubs operating under familiar brand names like Mecca Bingo, Blue Square, and Grosvenor Casino. Rank’s Chief Executive, Ian Burke, recently told a national newspaper that although they’ve had a “slow start” to the second half of the financial year, they’re still confident that it’ll be business as usual for the remainder of the year, and that their longer-term growth strategy will remain on course.

However, between the period from July through to December 2012, Rank saw its profit before tax slip to £31.3m, which it attributes to increased operating costs at its 100 Mecca Bingo halls around the UK, as well as a hike in spending on marketing campaigns for its betting arm – Blue Square. In early January 2013, they announced that the future of online sports-betting site, Blue Square, was under review due to its ongoing losses. Despite sponsoring its own football conference league (which currently includes small clubs like Bath City, Hayes, Kettering Town and Tamworth), from which it gains valuable advertising, they remain a relatively minor player in what is an increasingly competitive sector.

Whilst the future of Blue Square remains undecided, Rank continues to await the outcome of their bid to take over Gala Coral’s land-based UK casinos. The £205m deal is still under review by the Competition Commission, having been referred by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) back in the summer of 2012. If the merger goes ahead, Rank will become the largest casino operator in the UK, which the Competition Commission is concerned will prevent healthy competition and expansion by other parties in the casino industry.

Has your social life been adversely affected by the recent bad weather? Perhaps you got snowed in, and couldn’t attend your local bingo night or take a trip to the casino? If so, did you manage to find a solution, such as playing online?