Village Roadshow claims its troubles are ‘a nightmare from the past’

Village Roadshow has edged into profit after a disastrous 2017 with management insisting catastrophic “headwinds”, including the Dreamworld tragedy, are now “a nightmare from the past”.

The cinema and theme park operator posted an attributable profit of $200,000, up from the near-$67m loss in FY17.

The results include pre-tax impairment and other non-cash adjustments of $167.4m, and the disposal of its Singapore business of $154m.

But its core businesses continued to struggle, triggering a restructuring plan announced last month.

Cinema pre-tax profits fell from $48m to $38m with the sector partly impacted by the poor performance of movies between August and November.

Its theme parks business, hammered last year by the tragedy at Ardent Leisure owned-Dreamworld, suffered again.

Losses deepened from $8.8m last year to $24.4m with its Gold Coast theme parks losing $10.6m, down from a $0.2m profit in FY17.

But management predicted a strong year ahead with theme park ticket sales improving, partly driven by a new pricing structure and a marketing campaign fronted by athlete Sally Pearson.

VRL chief executive Graham Burke described Pearson as “Queensland’s sweetheart” and the TV ad as a “brilliantly enticing commercial”.

“It is really having an effect,” he said.

Burke added the theme park business was “back to normal, or even ahead of normal” after the Dreamworld tragedy in 2016.

Asked if he thought Dreamworld would still be operating in three years time, Burke predicted it had a “prosperous future ahead” which would benefit the entire theme park market on the Gold Coast.

Village Roadshow also heralded the opening of Topgolf, a golf-themed entertainment complex, as key to improving its fortunes.

Early trading at the Gold Coast venue “is one of the best sites amongst over 30 sites operating in the US”, it said, with Burke suggesting attendance had been strong with “extraordinary guest feedback”.

In its cinema business, Burke said the current year has shown positive results from movies including Ant-man and the Wasp and Mamma Mia!

The company also said it was winning the battle against piracy, closing 450 sites over the past 12 months.

A further 100 sites will be closed in September.

It said there had been “an increase in public awareness of the dangers of engaging in piracy with real exposure to viruses, malware and ransomware”.

VRL executive chairman Robery Kirby: “The extraneous factors that contributed to our headwinds such as the Dreamworld effect, is now a nightmare from the past. There are strategies in place to correct the effect of other external factors as well as our new growth initiative of Topgolf.”


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