17 February 2016, Written by Jenna Rathbone


ARDENT Leisure is reaping the rewards of a growing appetite for fun with growth across most of its key divisions helping to lift net interim profit 20 per cent to $22.7 million.

The biggest gains have come from the US, where the Main Events bowling division has delivered record results, built on a 23 per cent boost in revenue to $US75.5million ($106.2 million).

More mature assets added to the momentum, with Dreamworld on the Gold Coast delivering a 6.6 per cent lift in revenue during the period and the Australian bowling division growing revenue by 11.6 per cent.

While group revenue surged 16.8 per cent to $33.8 million, core earnings fell 5 per cent at $30.5 million due to higher depreciation, tax and interest and a one-off charge of $1 million for debt refinancing.

The Main Event contributed EBITDA of $US15.1 million ($21.2 million), up 12.9 per cent on the previous year.

The division opened two new centres in Missouri and Tennessee, with a further five centres planned to open in the second half of FY16 bringing the portfolio to a total of 27 centres by June 30. 

Ardent CEO Deborah Thomas says the group will further expand its bowling-anchored entertainment business beyond Texas and is looking for further opportunities to 'accelerate the roll-out'.

"The most important point is that all of our centres developed since 2007 are on track to deliver an average annual EBITDA return on investment of 35 per cent," says Thomas.

Meanwhile, Ardent's theme park division, which includes Dreamworld and White Water World on the Gold Coast, recorded total revenues of $58.4 million for the first half of the year, compared to $54.8 million in the prior corresponding period. 

This revenue bump was due to growth in attendance from both domestic and international visitors, with Chinese attendance up more than 80 per cent.

In an attempt to further boost revenue in the second half of FY16, Ardent will kick off a redevelopment of the popular Tiger Island at Dreamworld.

The health club division recorded total revenues of $92 million, up 3.9 per cent, driven by membership growth of more than 8,300 members during the first half of FY16.

Membership to Goodlife Health Clubs continues to soar in January 2016, with 3200 people signing up as members a record month for the division.

The Marina division's total revenue dropped to $11 million from $11.2 million against the prior half year, impacted by the redevelopment of The Spit marina which the company says interrupted occupancy and fuel sales in the first half year.  Overall berthing occupancy remains solid at 82 per cent.

It is expected growth in the second half of the year will be led by its Main Event division and growth in health clubs.

Ardent Leisure is paying an interim dividend of 7c per share.


Author: Jenna Rathbone
About: Jenna Rathbone is a Queensland-based journalist who writes on a range of issues including business and property affairs and social issues.
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