Brighton Palace Pier owner blames rail disruption for '˜lower than expected' earnings

Poor weather and rail services were blamed for falling profits at Brighton Palace Pier.

Brighton Palace Pier
Brighton Palace Pier

The Brighton Pier Group PLC issued a trading update last week (January 10) for the last six months of 2018, as well as an outlook for the coming months.

Luke Johnson, who is chairman of the group, also runs struggling cafe chain Patisserie Valerie.

The trading update said: “As previously reported, the trading performance of the company’s Pier division during the period has been negatively impacted by disappointing weather over the August bank holiday weekend that continued into the following month.

“Additionally, weekend railway services to and from Brighton have been disrupted by a major programme of engineering works, resulting in recurrent line closures (with replacement bus services) on the main line from London between the stations at Three Bridges and Brighton. This has significantly impacted the number of visitors into Brighton and onto the Pier. As such, earnings from the Pier have also been lower than expected for the period.

“The company has been informed that these line closures will continue into the second half of the current financial year, including a complete closure over the nine days of February half term and further closures in March, April and May (the start of the Pier’s peak trading period). However, once the railway upgrades have been completed, the Company expects that the improved railway service with fewer interruptions will benefit businesses across Brighton, and the trading performance of the Pier.

“The Board now anticipates that, as a result of the reasons outlined above, profit before tax for the current financial year will be in the region of 18% lower than current consensus expectations.”

Anne Ackord, chief executive officer of Brighton Pier Group, said: “Whilst I am disappointed at the rail network disruptions currently affecting the Pier, once they are complete, this will be of great benefit to future visitors travelling to the city and consequently to our Brighton businesses.

“Despite these challenges the company’s Pier, Bars and Golf businesses remain well invested, strongly cash generative and well positioned for future growth.”