StockMarketWire.com - Rank Group, which operates Mecca Bingo and Grosvenor Casinos, saw a slump in full-year profits as a tough first half offset gains in the second half of the year. Group operating profit fell 22% to £39m for the 12 months ended 30 June 2019. Group like-for-like revenue was flat at £729.5m. Looking forward, however, the company said there had been an 'encouraging start' to the 2019/2020 financial year with growth in both revenue and additional cost savings from the transformation programme. It expected its acquisition of Stride Gaming to complete in the early second quarter of the new financial year, adding that it was 'optimistic' about the 2019/20 outturn. 'We are pleased with the Group's second-half performance and the full year results, especially given the challenges we faced in the first half of the year,' said chief executive John O' Reilly. 'The acquisition of Stride, which we expect to complete in 2019/20, will help step change our digital business, deliver strong synergies, bring proprietary technology in house and create one of the UK's leading online gaming businesses,' he added. The company said it was pleased with its transformation programme, launched in December 2018, noting that it was starting to drive performance improvements in its UK and international venues businesses. It would pay a final dividend of 5.5p per share to be paid on 29 October 2019. This will take the full-year dividend to 7.65p per share, up 3% on the previous year. The company also announced that non-executive director Alex Thursby would be appointed as company chair after the annual general meeting on 17 October 2019.

Thursby would succeed Ian Burke who had previously said he would not seek reelection.

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