Greyhound Racing Ireland today published its consolidated accounts “Rásaíocht Con Éireann 2015 Annual Report” and has filed the subsidiary stadium accounts with the Companies Registration Office.
GRI is reporting an Operating Surplus before earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation, amortisation and defined benefit pension costs, of €2.3m for the 12 month period to 31 December 2015, an improvement of €1.6 million over 2014 accounts.
The trading environment improved in 2015. A total of 635,289 customers visited greyhound racing meetings during 2015. Average attendance per meeting in 2015 was up 4% on the prior period.
The generation of the surplus, facilitated in part by an increase in Exchequer funding of €2.75 million through the Horse and Greyhound Fund from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, allowed Greyhound Racing Ireland to increase race grants by 25 % since the start of 2016. This is an important contribution to the reversal of a phase of reduction of racing incentives and supports and is a critical step in ensuring viable levels of ownership and breeding within the industry.
GRI also reduced its long standing debt by €1.35m. At the end of 2015, net group debt stood at €21.6 million. GRI continues to work very closely with its banking partners to manage issues arising from the legacy debt burden which overhangs the industry and has inhibited its development since the Limerick Stadium project. This necessitates the sale of Harold’s Cross and the realisation of its asset value.
GRI is focused on the imperative of reducing its debt to sustainable levels and as recommended in the Indecon Report, it is proceeding with its asset disposal plan, including the sale of Harold’s Cross Stadium. The objective is to reduce interest payments, eliminate bank borrowings and create a viable future for the industry.
In 2015, GRI made the decision to bring its food and beverage operations in house which not only confers financial benefits but enables the organisation to leverage new audiences and markets by tailoring offerings to customers’ tastes and requirements. GRI was shortlisted for several Restaurant Association of Ireland awards and for the Events Industry Awards Best Caterer.
GRI's Marketing Department received two marketing awards; the Chartered Marketing Institute award for the 2015 Digital Marketing Summer Campaign and two Love Radio Awards for the summer radio advertising and was shortlisted for a number of other marketing awards.
The award winning Jumping in the City show jumping events were held in Limerick, Cork and Shelbourne Park in 2015. The events were very successful with large crowds attending each stadium.
Post year end, in 2016, GRI entered into a five year contract with Satellite Information Services Ltd (‘SIS’) for the provision of the retail betting product, data, pictures and pricing, to retail bookmaker shops in Ireland, United Kingdom and further afield.
5,632 samples were taken from greyhounds in 2015. Positive findings were returned in 79 samples (1.4%) from competing greyhounds.
These figures demonstrate Greyhound Racing Ireland's commitment in the area of anti-doping and medication control. The organisation introduced secondary legislation in 2015 to provide for the publication of adverse analytical findings in greyhound samples, and to ensure the publication of all cases before the Control Committee. All greyhounds with a positive finding must produce a negative result before being allowed to run again.
Additionally in 2016, Greyhound Racing Ireland introduced secondary legislation to provide for record keeping in relation to the use of medicines and the treatment of greyhounds, as well as powers to implement the off-track sampling of greyhounds for prohibited substances (whether in training or otherwise).
GRI established a specialist Scientific Committee on Doping and Medication Control which advises the organisation on scientific matters relating to anti-doping and medication control in greyhounds.
2015 saw the imposition of a Disqualification Order and an Exclusion Order by GRI, as part of its active welfare monitoring. Following the GRI investigation into the Cherbourg tragedy and substantial inter-agency co-operation, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine revoked an EU transport Authorisation. GRI had its first successful prosecution under the Welfare of Greyhounds Act 2011. Three Welfare notices were served by GRI’s Welfare Officers in response to inspections carried out at various premises; these are subject to on-going monitoring. All reported incidents of greyhound cruelty and neglect are taken very seriously and all are investigated. Any information gathered following welfare inspections, is shared with local authorities, An Garda Siochána and ISPCA.
Greyhounds make wonderful pets and the GRI acknowledges the work of the Irish Retired Greyhound Trust (‘IRGT’), who through their network of international rehoming agencies provides rehoming opportunities for some of our retired greyhounds. The IRGT also began assisting various private rehoming agencies by providing financial assistance towards veterinary and transportation costs. To promote the suitability of retired greyhounds as pets, GRI and the IRGT teamed up with GAIN Pet Foods to run a number of Retired Greyhound Shows throughout Ireland in 2015 that continued in 2016. This will remain an area of key focus.
GRI acknowledges and thanks the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine, Michael Creed T.D., Minister for State, Andrew Doyle T.D. and the officials of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, for their continued support of the Greyhound Industry.
GRI also thanks most sincerely all our wonderful sponsors who continue to support our industry each year. Congratulations to all our winners, especially our classic winners. 2015 was a great year with many superstars emerging.
Working Towards a Viable Future
The mission statement of GRI is “To deliver a commercial, well-regulated Greyhound Racing and Breeding Industry whilst enabling the delivery of a customer centered, highly exciting and value led entertainment experience”. However there is little doubt that the Greyhound Industry in Ireland is now in a period of great change. The scale of the challenges it faces was outlined in great detail in the Indecon Report.
GRI has an important role in coordinating industry stakeholders and ensuring coherence in terms of the strategic direction of the industry as well as leading by example in terms of accountability, openness and transparency that will allow it to develop an environment whereby stakeholders can apply their trade with increasing certainty and confidence. The Board and staff of GRI will continue to work with stakeholders to establish a contemporary, fit for purpose model for the industry to prosper into the future. To that end, 2015 also saw the establishment of the Stakeholder Forum whereby GRI meet representatives from the Industry a number of times a year. This is a significant step forward for the industry as it enables stakeholder organisations to give their views on important issues affecting the industry.
Important Note to Accounts
Due to regulatory factors and the internal structures of the Group, individual stadium accounts factor in the full running costs of each stadium but are presented without the inclusion of the primary sources of income for each stadium such as Tote, entry fees and the full contribution of the hospitality offer. As a consequence, individual stadium subsidiary accounts do not give a complete picture of individual stadium operations. Therefore to understand the full consolidated results of GRI, the Board draws your attention to our 2015 Annual Report and it is this that is referred to throughout this statement. To expedite the earliest availability of financial data, a management statement for 2016 will be issued no later than March 31 2017.