The Stow ‘Potential Goldmine’

Barrie Clegg of the Save Our Stow consortium has researched Walthamstow Stadiums finances and published the following findings in the Greyhound Star. The following shows a summary of just how profitable the stadium could be as a working greyhound stadium:

IS WALTHAMSTOW STADIUM A VIABLE BUSINESS?

As a member of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, I have a professional understanding of accounts as well as a good knowledge of Walthamstow Stadium, having been there just about every week in the past 27 years prior to closure.

I downloaded the company accounts from Companies House for the 6 years to 28 February 2007 and, together with other information made available to me, I have reached my own conclusions as to the viability of greyhound racing at Walthamstow Stadium.

Firstly, I will set out some facts:

  1. Over the 6 year period, the cumulative accounts profit before dividends totalled £439,876.
  2. The above cumulative profit was after paying directors remuneration and pension contributions of £9,074,708.
  3. During the 6 year period, the minimum extracted by a combination of pension contributions and directors remuneration was over 1.1m (2007) and the maximum was 1.94m (2005).
  4. The directors report forming part of the 2005 accounts stated that ‘the continuing high cost of funding the company’s now closed non contributory pension fund was the principal factor in the increased cost of sales.’
  5. The balance sheet net assets (ignoring deferred tax and pension scheme liability) was between 2.3m and 2.85m.
  6. Cash at bank varied between £496,436 (2005) and £920,700 (2002) with the figure of £767,758 as at 28/2/07.

The above, together with other information I have access to, leads me to form the following personal opinions:

  1. The pension scheme and the directors’ salaries were a tremendous drain on the business. Without these costs alone, the business would have remained hugely profitable throughout the period. It still remained generally profitable even with these tremendous liabilities.
  2. It is clear to me (and many people share my view) that the business could have made many changes during this period to increase profitability further. Examples of this are:
    -Treating the regulars eg owners, with respect by not, by way of example, supplying them with plastic beakers to drink from in an owners and trainers bar and offering better deals (or at the very least as good as) to your regulars as opposed to the ‘six-packers’.
    -Follow the example of other establishments during lean times ie MORE entertainment and MORE competitive prices for drinks etc rather than the direct opposite.
    -Closing the popular side open on Tuesday’s (and possible Thursdays) to save with heating, lighting and staffing costs.
    -Slashing the staffing costs of over 4.2m per annum.
    -Increasing the promotion, especially to the City for office parties etc.
    -Keep the bars and betting booths open longer and turning the Goodwood Lounge in to an after racing members/owners club.
  3. I have undertaken an exercise to ‘project’ income and expenditure based on information I have and my knowledge of the track and making sensible changes to staffing arrangements etc. My calculations indicate that an annual profit of over £2m is readily achievable and this is without a BAGS contract which could be worth a further £1m or so.

So this leads me to my conclusion. Any talk of the track being ‘non-viable’ is, in my opinion, complete nonsense. It is a potential goldmine. I cannot say for sure whether the track was run down on purpose for ulterior reasons. The track remained profitable and able to sustain huge directors’ wages and pension contributions whilst being run, in my opinion, at a low efficiency rate in the latter years. A combination of far reduced pension/directors’ wages commitments coupled with sensible changes to the general running of the business would, in my opinion, result in a hugely profitable business.

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4 Responses to The Stow ‘Potential Goldmine’

  1. Martin Donovan says:

    Well done Barrie Clegg, if only the chandlers were as professional as you, the idea of closing the cheapside on certain race nights is a great idea, That one idea alone would have been enough to save the place, It makes me wonder why such a simple business decision which could of saved a fortune in running costs wasnt thought of by the directors of the stow, Its all very suspect!!, Upon my recent visits to the stow before it closed i found it hard to get a bet on, due to massive queue’s, Surely as a business the main priority is to keep the tills ringing, i didnt even manage to get a bet on any race on the final night, If the stow were to re open (wouldnt that be great) maybe they could have lots of booths dedicated to placing bets, and not so many booths dedicated to paying out wins, im sure this would ensure that every punter would get their bet on in time, thus generating more income, or perhaps even automatic betting machines much like the ones you use to buy a car park ticket this would reduce (in the long run) staff wage output as well, I cant understand why the owners never thought of these simple ideas, it simple logical thinking, it make me even more suspicious that something wasnt right , Save our stow!!

  2. Rock-itradio says:

    We agree, how come the so called “business men” that ran the stow could’nt come up with these idea’s? Were they really that bad at their jobs? Good luck SOS !

  3. David James says:

    Given the facts and conclusions presented by barrie Clegg, it seems undeniably obvious to anyone let alone the stadiums owners that restructuring the running of the stow would of been more than enough to keep it open. That is, of course, IF the so-called losses was the real reason for its closure. It doesn’t take a mathematician or accountant to know that not using as much resources, i.e lighting and heating etc can save a fortune in costs as the general public has to do this as a way of life. The ironic thing is that if the owners would of announced that they were losing money and the stadium would have to close, the stows racing community would have gladly put their hands in their own pockets in order to help save it. The truth is simply that the stadiums owners didn’t care either way just as long as they got paid. Their interest in the stadium was always about the money on the business side whereas, it was the everyday people, the salt of the earth, who loved it for its spirit and for the whole experience. Save Our Stow.

  4. sandraraven says:

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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