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Old Trafford revamp continues Lancashire’s growth trend

Lancashire Cricket Club has posted an operating profit for 2018 of £2.387m (€2.76m/$3.1m), a slight increase year-on-year despite Emirates Old Trafford not having the benefit of hosting a Test match.

Lancashire, which is based in Manchester, posted an operating profit of £2.347m for the year ended December 31, 2017. The club has seen its operating profit grow from £763,000 in 2015, with a record year anticipated for 2019, supported by six Cricket World Cup fixtures, an Ashes Test match against Australia, plus Lancashire’s regular domestic season.

Last year saw Lancashire host a one day international between England and Australia, as well as a Twenty20 international where the national team faced India, both of which were said to be a great success from an attendance and revenue perspective. In addition, a record 22,000 tickets were sold for a Friday night domestic T20 Blast game against historic rival Yorkshire.

Lancashire said the significant shortfall in revenues from not hosting a Test match were offset by the benefit of the Emirates Old Trafford Hilton Garden Inn’s first full year of trading. The 150-bedroom four star hotel is achieving strong average occupancy levels, now exceeding 70%. Its introduction was part of the £60m redevelopment of Old Trafford that has been taking place in recent years.

Lancashire said the hotel has significantly enhanced two other key business streams of the club. Firstly, after two or three years of relatively static sales, the conference and events business grew its revenues by 14% in the year to more than £4m. The two income streams are now delivering more than £8m of off-the-field revenue for the club.

Secondly, the hotel was built with both the cricket and the off-the-field opportunity in mind, and the ability to convert pitch facing bedrooms to hospitality suites for major cricket matches unlocked potential for growth in hospitality numbers in 2018.

The diversity in the club’s business model was again further demonstrated with a new Caffè Nero coffee shop established on-site and a sell-out Liam Gallagher concert hosted. The cricket’s retail and merchandise operation was also brought back in-house during the year.

Lancashire’s finance director and club secretary, Lee Morgan, said: “2018 yielded a positive set of financial results which demonstrated the benefits of diversifying the club’s activities beyond cricket to help support our responsibility and vision to grow the game in the North West.

“The strong and stable platform which has now been established following a number of years of ground development at Emirates Old Trafford provides the opportunity for the club to embrace and make the most of the regional, national and global profile and commercial income from the ICC Cricket World Cup and Ashes in 2019, and the exciting period of cricket that follows.

“The club has a desire and vision to be the best, and we are striving to achieve this. We are now starting to see the stability and strength that a sustainable commercial business model offers, and the opportunities it will provide in the coming years to invest in the game of cricket from grass roots and participation through to members, supporters, the match day experience and the elite performance department.”