Ascot Racecourse Releases 2020 Business Summary

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Crowd-filled stands at Royal Ascot pre-pandemic | Horsephotos

The 2020 financial results were announced by Ascot Racecourse on Wednesday. Total turnover was down by 77% due to COVID-19 restrictions with only two racedays being held with spectators and another 18 run behind closed doors. There were also five lost racedays due to the pandemic and one abandonment due to inclement weather. Pandemic insurance and support from the UK Government through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and business rates relief prevented a pre-tax loss of over £31 million. In addition, the staff were restructured to adjust to pandemic trading conditions. At the end of 2020, the gross debt for the racecourse stood at £59.4m compared to 2019's £57.4m. A standby loan facility of £20m until 2023 was arranged through the Government Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan (CLBILS) scheme, but was not drawn down.

Guy Henderson, Chief Executive Officer at Ascot Racecourse, said, “2020 was naturally a difficult year with trading conditions and results severely affected by the Covid-19 restrictions. The financial impact was mitigated by cushions such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Business Rates Relief and pandemic insurance for racing without crowds, but Ascot's financial position and ambitions have suffered a setback.

“Ascot had to reduce fixed costs at the end of 2020. Having to lose dedicated and loyal employees, who had contributed to Ascot's success over recent years, was hard for all concerned. I wish to pay tribute to and thank all our staff for their dedication and commitment in such difficult and uncertain times.

“We also wish to thank all our partners, suppliers, sponsors and various customers for their support.

“Without pandemic insurance this year and with strict limits on crowds at Royal Ascot for the second year, we currently forecast a significant pre-tax loss in 2021. That said, the business is on track to end the year without having to increase debt in 2021. This will provide a solid platform from which to bounce back from the pandemic in 2022 and 2023.

“Prize money and capital investment have inevitably been impacted as a result of the pandemic. We plan to build back on both fronts to pre-Covid levels as prudently and as quickly as practicable from next year. Attracting and rewarding the best quality racing and providing top class facilities are important business priorities.

“Royal Ascot in the Platinum Jubilee year will be a huge celebration and our focus is on delivering a unique event for everyone to enjoy across the globe.”

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