Triumphs, Transitions and Transformation

On Sunday night I was down at our Bingo Club in Cricklewood for the second ‘ Colossus’ Big Money Bingo night. 1,900 customers came through the doors and the winner of the last house of the evening won a cash prize of £100,000. The biggest prize in UK bingo and the largest number of players attending any bingo club in the country!

We have a really first rate team at Cricklewood managed by Steve Lightfoot and the ‘Colossus’ night, and every night, runs like a well-oiled machine. If you happen to be in north London at any time it is really worth visiting the Club and seeing what we describe as ‘the home of Bingo’ going full steam ahead.

Elsewhere as we continue to move through the autumn into what arguably is the ‘winter’ (14 degrees today in London!), I am delighted to note that the rest of our Bingo Clubs and AGCs have been performing well, a function of the recovering economy for sure, but also the result of really good customer service delivered by a great team of staff. Some of you will doubtless be aware that we regularly use Mystery Shoppers to test the way our venue staff deliver our required service standards and I was delighted to note that once again, our overall score in this assessment went up. Of course I am not suggesting that we always get it right but when we don’t, we move swiftly to rectify the situation and I believe that this dedication to delivering great service is now in our collective DNA. It always amazes me how some businesses can get the blindingly obvious completely wrong when it comes to Customer Service….

Burning issues at present? We are waiting for the government (DCMS and Gambling Commission) to publish its assessment of the £50 threshold on B2 gaming machines (should be fascinating…) and moving on from there, to hopefully publishing a consultation document as a precursor to a ‘Triennial Review’ into stakes and prizes in the UK gaming machine sector. These supposedly three yearly reviews used to be the driver for innovation and machine sales in the UK domestic market. When they were suspended by the Labour government in 2004, the damage inflicted on the manufacturers was devastating, with machine production falling from a high of 80,000 machines per year to something slightly under 10,000 today.

Other issues? The implementation of the ‘National Living Wage’ is something that I personally welcome and we will be implementing this in February 2016, ahead of the government timetable. We have also decided to adopt the same rates for all employees, irrespective of age, as we feel that all our venue staff work equally hard.

So, that’s the current round up. Business good, waiting for the ‘triennial review’, implementing the National Living Wage and hoping that the forecasts of ‘the worst winter weather for forty years’ turn out to be rubbish!

Lastly, I am delighted to report that tomorrow I shall be taking one of our former Chairmen, Nat Solomon (also ex-Chairman of Spurs) out to dinner to celebrate his ninetieth birthday and as he is still a Director of two companies, who said hard work wasn’t good for you!

Have a great Christmas and a happy and prosperous 2016.

Best wishes,


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