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IN BRIEF

£1.6m ten-pin bowling centre for Slough

Slough Community Leisure is to start work in April converting the existing Slough Tennis Centre into a new £1.6m ten-pin bowling centre. Due for completion by the end of the summer, the new facility will boast 18 bowling lanes, gaming machines, pool tables and a café/ bar. The project is being funded and managed by Alliance Leisure. It was designed by Bignell Shacklady Ewing and building work will be carried out by WFC Ltd. Greg Sinclair, commercial director for Slough Community Leisure, said: "The leisure trust has taken the decision not to bid for other contracts, but instead to look within our own estate at how we can expand our services outside of traditional health and fitness." The centre will be retaining its outdoor tennis provision – the existing eight floodlit tennis courts are to be refurbished – and to make up for the loss of indoor tennis facilities, plans are being drawn up to add two new indoor courts at Thames Valley Athletics Centre.

William Hill 'expects' World Cup boost

UK bookmaker William Hill has

revealed it "expects some benefit" from this summer's World Cup after posting a 4 per cent increase in net revenue for the year ending 29 December 2009. Compared with the previous year, the group posted a 63 per cent increase in online net revenue to help offset a 4 per cent decline in retail figures. Pre-tax profits also decreased by 9 per cent from 2008 levels. Higher than average football margins helped to drive strong fourth quarter growth for William Hill, although early trading for the current year has been hit by a number of football fixture cancellations due to wintry weather conditions.

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Builder named for Scunthorpe scheme

Construction on £14.4m Baths Hall venue scheduled to begin later in the year

By Pete Hayman

North Lincolnshire Council has announced that Scunthorpe- based Clugston Construction has been appointed to build the town's new multi-million pound entertainment venue. Baths Hall, which is expect-

ed to cost £14.4m – £1.3m less than initially thought, will provide Scunthorpe with a new multi-use venue capable of hosting a range of events and live performances. The council's appointment of

the construction company is subject to the conclusion of normal procurement proce- dures – including a mandatory 15-day 'standstill' period. Work is scheduled to get

underway in April to deliver the new venue, which is set to incorporate an auditorium equipped with flexible partitioning and seating capacity for 1,200 people and

Minmar buys Agora sites

Business advisory firm Baker Tilly has announced it has completed the sale of more than 100 gaming centres owned by Agora Gaming Group to investment vehicle Minmar (929). Edward Symmons LLP

acted on behalf of Baker Tilly to secure the deal, which includes 106 leasehold properties formerly operated by the four subsidiary companies under the Agora banner. Centres in London and

Aldershot are among those to be sold after Agora was placed into administration last December.

Facilities at the centre will include a 1,200-capacity auditorium

a standing area for up to 2,000 people. Additional balcony seating,

conference facilities and a café and a bar are also among the proposals for the venue, which is poised to be run by one of three potential leisure operators. Council leader Mark Kirk

said: "The new venue will act

as a catalyst for further regeneration work along Doncaster Road – a key gateway into the town." In January, the council

revealed that SMG Europe; Sheffield International Venues and regional theatre operator HQ Theatres are vying for the chance to operate the Baths Hall venue.

Rank Group posts profit growth

By Pete Hayman

Rank Group, the UK casino and bingo hall operator, has posted an operating profit of £60.8m for the year ending 31 December 2009, when compared with a £9.1m loss for the previous year. A strong performance by the

company's Grosvenor Casinos chain, which saw operating profit grow by a fifth and revenue increase by 7 per cent, helped to increase an overall 3.4 per cent increase in revenue for the 12-month period. An increase in customers and

customer visit helped to boost the casino chain, while Rank's Mecca Bingo arm saw an increase in revenue through a

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Revenue increased at Rank's chain of Mecca Bingo venues

growth in average spend per visit helping to offset a "modest decline" in visits. Rank Group's chief executive

Ian Burke said: "The company's financial performance in 2009 was principally a result of the actions we have taken over a number of years to reposition the group."

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