News Column

Goals confident it can score a success with new teams app

September 4, 2014

greig cameron; greig cameron deputy business editor

GOALS Soccer Centres has seen its shares rise 4.5 per cent following an upbeat trading announcement where it signalled it is on course for further growth in the United States and its core UK market.

The five-a-side football operator reported a three per cent rise in revenue from pound(s)16.6 million to pound(s)17.1m in the first half of the year.

Underlying pre-tax profit was up more than eight per cent from pound(s)4.05m to pound(s)4.4m although the bottom-line figure was pound(s)600,000 as a result of pound(s)3.8m of exceptional charges. As Goals had previously flagged, it took a pound(s)2.7m charge to settle its interest rate swap with a further pound(s)500,000 one- off related to its new banking arrangement with Bank of Scotland.

In addition it is putting aside a pound(s)600,000 provision related to bad debt which is being taken ahead of the launch of its new mobile app.

Keith Rogers, chief executive, is hopeful the app will bring thousands more players to its 44 UK sites every week.

The company has spent more than a year working on the software, which will make it easier for team organisers to select players and get them to pay money directly. Mr Rogers said: "Team organisers are liable for cost of the pitch but for various reasons they can get let down by players.

"Some people might take five, six or seven weeks to pay that bill and only then start playing football again. What we have lost in that interim period is football income from that team.

"So we are saying to those teams that if they download the app and use it to organise and book their first game we will waive their debt. What that will mean is that we get them back into playing and paying quicker than we otherwise would have."

Mr Rogers suggested an additional game each day at every one of its sites would add around pound(s)800,000 to its bottom line.

Goals expects to save around pound(s)1m off its interest bill having agreed new banking facilities with long-term backer Bank of Scotland. The deal also extends the maturity of the group's debt from 2016 to 2019. Net debt at the end of June this year was at pound(s)36.6m, down from pound(s)48.1m.

A new centre was acquired in Newcastle earlier this year while construction work on a site in Manchester has recently begun.

That is expected to be open by the end of the calendar year with Mr Rogers considering a number of other sites in and around Manchester.

He said: "We didn't have any presence in Newcastle or Manchester. We are delighted with Newcastle and it is performing bang on where we expected it.

"We have a number of sites in Manchester in our pipeline so we hope this one will be the first of a number. It is a big conurbation."

Its site in Los Angeles was said to have seen a seven per cent rise in revenue to pound(s)600,000.

Mr Rogers said the company had benefited from the increased exposure of football in the US during the World Cup in Brazil.

Goals still plans to open a second site in LA next year with two more on the way in 2016.

Mr Rogers said: "It is a fantastically well performing centre. We have been active for quite some time building a pipeline and we have good quality coming together now. We have established ourselves in terms of LA. We are well known amongst city councils and are working diligently to get the best locations we can."

Trading in recent months has also been strong and Mr Rogers added: "There is a lot happening in the business and we are seeing all sales categories in positive territory which is absolutely fantastic."

Shares closed up 9.5p at 222.5p.


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Source: Herald, The (Scotland)


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