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Gresham House Strategic plc

Escape Hunt plc Significant year of progress, revenue up 149% to £2.17m

Escape Hunt plc (LON:ESC), a global leader in the high growth “escape rooms sector” announced its audited results for the year ending 31 December 2018.

 Year ended 31 Dec 2017 (£m)Year Ended 31 Dec 2018 (£m)
Gross Profit0.510.04
Adjusted EBITDA(0.79)(3.09)
Loss per share(24.77p)(49.38p)
Net Cash£10.65m£2.66m

Operational highlights:

· Opened eight owner-operated UK sites in Bristol, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Oxford and Reading

· Received outstanding customer feedback on TripAdvisor with the first four sites to be opened reaching #1, the next three reaching #2, with the last already at #7

· Delivered Escape Hunt’s first licensed IP deal with the BBC, opening Doctor Who themed escape rooms for fans and customers

· Maintained a successful franchise network globally and set the foundations necessary to attract large partners to roll-out at scale

· Built from scratch the infrastructure required for our growth plan. Included moving the operations from Asia to the UK, creating a game design studio in London, rolling-out of the new Escape Hunt Brand across the business, and establishing a capable Head Office team, all requiring minimal additional expenditure

Financial highlights:

· UK owner-operated sites delivered sales in line and EBITDA slightly ahead of expectations for the year

· Group revenue up 149% to £2.17m (2017: £0.87m), driven by the partial first year contribution of the owner-operated sites in the UK

· Reduction in gross profits from £0.51m to £0.04m driven by the costs of sites in their pre-opening phase and the subsequent period as these sites grow revenues to maturity

· Group Adjusted EBITDA loss of £3.09m in line with expectations

· Pre-tax losses of £9.98m (2017: £4.13m) reflect the amortisation of the IP purchased at acquisition (£3.7m), exceptional costs relating to the Bangkok closure (£0.3m), and an impairment charge of £2.3m for goodwill and IP intangibles, driven by the decision to delay the roll-out of UK sites in 2017 while we rebranded the business.

· Cash position of £2.66m as at 31 December 2018 (2017: £10.65m)

· Cash reduction of £8m reflects the Adjusted EBITDA loss of £3.09m and investment in infrastructure, especially capex of £4.27m and intangible assets of £0.49m

· Basic loss per share (‘EPS’) of 49.38 pence (2017: 24.77 pence).

Post-period Highlights:

· Detailed heads of terms have been agreed with a US franchising partner to roll-out new franchisee sites across the US and Canada

· The first tranche of three UK sites continue to trade well and the second tranche of five less mature sites are so far building more quickly than the first with both sales and EBITDA ahead of Board expectations

· The UK owner-operated estate of nine sites is now generating positive EBITDA as a group.

· The Company has today announced a proposed equity placing (“Placing”) to be undertaken by Stockdale Securities Ltd and Peel Hunt Ltd to raise a minimum of £4m (before expenses) by way of an accelerated bookbuild primarily to fund the Company’s roll-out of new sites in the UK

Chief Executive Officer, Richard Harpham, comments:

“It has been a significant year of progress with elements of the business reorganised and eight owner-operated sites successfully rolled-out across the UK. I am also delighted to report that the inaugural performance and revenue generated from these sites has been in line with expectations.

“The strength of the Escape Hunt brand helped us secure a major licensing agreement with the BBC, to create Doctor Who themed escape rooms. This was an important milestone for the Group and has helped us to deliver on our strategy of being the premier brand in the escape rooms sector. The demand for experiential leisure is reflected in our success and ability to attract growing footfall and we look forward to opening more UK sites during 2019 whilst expanding our franchise overseas.”

Escape Hunt (LON:ESC) noun Def: The name given to 60 minutes of pure, unadulterated excitement, during which you and your teammates lose yourselves in an incredible experience, working together to follow a series of fiendishly clever clues and escape a locked room. Gresham House Strategic PLC (LON:GHS) has a 3% ownership of Escape Hunt as of June 2018.

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Disclaimer: Statements in this article should not be considered investment advice, which is best sought directly from a qualified professional.