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260% rise in energy costs as numbers go up at Inverness-based bingo firm

By Andrew Dixon

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Carlton Bingo.
Carlton Bingo.

Numbers have picked up for Carlton Bingo in its latest annual accounts.

The Inverness-headquartered firm’s turnover for the year to March 27, 2023 increased by more than £3 million. Its pre-tax profit also went up.

A strategic report accompanying the accounts stated it had faced extraordinary inflationary pressures, adding: “Such pressures have seen energy costs increased by 260 per cent from October 1, 2022 whilst national living wage rates have increased by 26.9 per cent since September 2021.

“In addition, all suppliers have sought to increase pricing at inflationary levels over the course of the year, some via multiple increases as they react to their own similar pressures. As a result, the cost base of the group has been increased to a degree unforeseen 18 months ago. Like other businesses within the hospitality and leisure sector, recruitment presented a significant challenge throughout the period and continues to do so.”

Turnover rose from £9,923,244 in 2021/22 to £12,707,572 in 2022/23. For the same period, a pre-tax profit of £1,320,801 increased to £5,653,235.

A factor in the accounts related to a repayment received from HMRC of overpaid VAT plus statutory interest on gaming machine income for the period of December 6, 2005 to January 31, 2013.

The report added: “Despite the significant pressures on customers net disposable income, spends have continued to rise during the period and year-on-year. Similarly, an increasing number of younger customers have joined as members and generally appear to have a particular wish to visit at weekends or during promotional sessions, focusing their enjoyment on main session bingo, food and beverage offerings.

“The opportunity here for the group is that it can offer something different, with fun to be had at a very good value in a safe environment with space aplenty.”

The firm plans some investment including CCTV upgrades in Inverness, plus health and safety improvements in Elgin along with additional boiler management systems to help manage heating costs.

The average number of employees stayed at 212 while staff costs increased from £4,441,701 in 2021/22 to £4,898,020 for the following 12 months.

The Employee Ownership Trust took over the business in March 2022.

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