April 22, 2010 / 6:42 AM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 1-Rank gets casinos, online sales boost

* Boosted by Grosvenor Casinos, Rank Interactive

* Mecca Bingo recovers after January cold weather

* LFL sales up 4 pct; total sales up 10 pct

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LONDON, April 22 (Reuters) - British bingo hall and casino operator Rank Group (RNK.L) said strong sales at its Grosvenor Casinos and Rank Interactive units underpinned an “encouraging” start to 2010, and it was confident on its full-year prospects.

Rank added that its Mecca Bingo chain had recovered from the effects of cold weather in January, and Top Rank Espana had shown modest growth in spite of weak economic environment in Spain, in a trading statement on Thursday.

Like-for-like sales growth in group revenue for the 16 weeks to April 18 was 4 percent, on a 10 percent rise in total group revenue.

    “The Group has made a positive start to the year with revenue growth in each of its four businesses... (and) remains confident in the full-year prospects for the Group and in its longer term growth strategy,” Rank said in a statement.

    In February, Rank, which has 34 casinos and 103 bingo clubs in Britain, reinstated its dividend after posting a forecast-beating rise in full-year pretax profit. [ID:nLDE61N2D9]

    Also on Thursday, Rank said a new VAT reclaim of around 42 million pounds ($64.66 million) relating to amusement machines and main stage bingo, and an existing 59.1 million pound reclaim for interval bingo would now be received later in the year, rather than in the first quarter, as previously expected.

    Rank stock has risen 40 percent in the year to date, outperforming the FTSE All Share Index by 30 percent, and closed late Wednesday at 117.9 pence a share, valuing the company at 454 million pounds ($699 million). ($1=.6495 Pound) (Reporting by Simon Jessop; editing by David Cowell)

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