Escape Hunt in a much stronger position 12 months on

Escape Hunt plc

Escape Hunt plc (LON:ESC) has today announced its audited final results for the year ended 31st December 2020.

FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS

·    Group Adjusted EBITDA loss reduced to £1.4m (2019: loss £1.7m) despite COVID-19 restrictions

·    > 25% like-for-like sales growth on a 12 week rolling basis in the two months prior to lockdown

·    Group revenue of £2.7m (2019: £4.9m) was 46% lower than FY19, driven by COVID-19

·    Revenue from digital and other play at home products was £230k (2019: nil)

·    £0.4m positive site level Adjusted EBITDA from owner-operated sites (2019: £1.0m) was driven by a strong performance pre-lockdown and encouraging trading when allowed to open under COVID-19 restrictions

·    Franchise EBITDA of £0.3m (2019: £0.4m)

·    Group operating loss of £6.4m (2019: loss of £5.9m)

·    £4.0m net of expenses successfully raised through an equity placing and open offer, share subscription, and a convertible loan note in July 2020

·    Cash at year end £2.7m (2019: £2.2m) and £3.3m on 31 March 2021

OPERATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS

·    Owner-operated estate expanded by 56% to 14 sites (2019: 9 sites) including Watford (which was scheduled to open on December 27th) and the acquisition of Dubai

·    Record opening performances at each of Norwich and Basingstoke sites

·    All eight sites open for more than 12 months were named by TripAdvisor™ as a Travellers’ Choice Winner in August 2020 and continued five star TripAdvisor™ ratings across the UK estate

·    Transition to new, lower cost games supplier and installation of first fully modular games in Watford

·    COVID-19 closures of all UK sites resulted in 45% of available days lost and restrictions impacted a further 36% of available trading days

·    Estimated 40% of trading days lost by franchise estate due to COVID-19 closures and a further 42% of days operating under COVID-19 restrictions

·    Successful launch of digital and remote play propositions

·    Acquisition of Middle East master franchise, including owner-operated site in Dubai

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POST YEAR END

·    Full UK lockdown enforced shortly after Christmas 2020 with UK sites re-opened on 17 May 2021

·    Acquisition of French and Belgian master franchise including owner-operated sites in Paris and Brussels

·    Placing to raise £1.3m (after expenses) in January 2021 to fund French and Belgian acquisition and provide further working capital

·    Majority of French franchise agreements extended for further six years

·    Kingston opened on May 17, taking the owned and operated estate to 17 sites

·    Heads of terms agreed on site in Milton Keynes; legals close to completion

·    Work commencing shortly at new site in Lakeside

·    Inclusive of Milton Keynes and Lakeside, owner operated estate will have grown 111% compared to 31 Dec 2019

·    Digital and downloadable sales continuing to perform, generating £92k revenue in the 3 months to 31 March 2021.

·    £1.0m convertible loan note facility put in place to provide further flexibility to continue UK roll-out in the event of further lockdown restrictions or continued adverse impact on trading from COVID-19

Richard Harpham, Chief Executive of Escape Hunt, commented:

“We are delighted that our UK sites have finally been able to re-open and are excited to be building on the substantial strategic progress we have been able to make in the last year, notwithstanding the extremely tough conditions brought about by Covid-19.  Escape Hunt is in a much stronger position today than it was twelve months ago, and subject to reasonable assumptions on demand returning, we are confident that we now have a platform established capable of supporting a profitable business.  We have significantly grown our owner-operated estate, launched our digital and remote-play propositions, made progress with our franchisees, and re-capitalised the business.  We are hopeful that consumer and corporate demand will return strongly in the coming months and look forward with cautious optimism.”

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