WINNIPEG, Manitoba, April 14, 2020 /CNW/ – Pollard Banknote Limited (TSX: PBL) (“Pollard”), like many organizations, has been confronted with an unprecedented challenge in managing the impact of the COVID -19 virus (“virus”) outbreak.
Our focus in all of our operations is maintaining a safe and healthy environment for all of our employees, their families and all of our stakeholders, while continuing to support the business of our customers. We have implemented stringent health protocols in all of our facilities including extensive social distancing protocols, more frequent cleaning and disinfecting, widespread working at home policies and daily health and temperature screening for all staff working at all of our facilities.
Pollard’s business is primarily focused on the sale of instant tickets and ancillary products to government lotteries around the world and the sale of charitable gaming products to charitable gaming organizations in North America. Our products are sold to lotteries and distributors for ultimate sale at various retail establishments.
Pollard’s lottery operations account for approximately 78% of our overall revenue. Currently almost all lotteries have remained operational and are continuing to sell lottery products including instant tickets at retail. The impact of the virus on retail sales of lottery products has varied from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, however on average, over the last few weeks North American lotteries are reporting between 15-20% reductions in retail sales of instant tickets compared to the same periods last year.
All of our lottery production facilities remain open and operational at this time, and all of our staff who can work from home are doing so. Our supply chains remain intact. We have not yet seen a significant reduction in our short-term production schedule as generally we produce instant tickets well in advance of its release at retail by the lotteries. However, to ensure a safe work environment, including maintaining social distancing, we have reduced our staffing and production capacity in our Ypsilanti, Michigan facility. The combined impact of this reduction in capacity and some softening in our orders due to lower retail sales could result in a reduction in our instant ticket revenue of between 10-15% during this period.
Traditionally, sales of instant tickets have shown significant resilience during times of substantial economic downturn and we anticipate a return to the historic sales levels and continued growth when retail markets return to normal.
Our sales earned through our iLottery operations, generated through revenue sharing, has grown noticeably over the past few weeks, as consumers increasingly move their purchases to the internet. However, only a small number of lotteries have developed iLottery portals and as a result, our increased revenue from iLottery will only modestly mitigate reduced sales in other areas of our business.
Pollard has taken a number of steps to minimize our expenditures throughout our lottery business in light of the reduced lottery revenue. This includes reductions in discretionary expenses, postponing capital projects, select temporary staff furloughs in certain areas of the lottery operations and salary reductions for our entire management group. Government programs available to assist employees and businesses are being investigated and reviewed. In addition, our ancillary products operations, including Schafer and Fastrak merchandising operations, are selectively utilizing temporary staff furloughs to help mitigate any reduction in revenue for these businesses. To the extent the economic environment further reduces lottery sales, additional expenditure reduction initiatives will be implemented.
Our charitable gaming products generate approximately 22% of our consolidated revenue and include the sale of pull-tab tickets, bingo paper and the operation of Diamond Game and Oasis branded egaming machines. Sales primarily occur in social settings such as bars, veteran halls and bingo centers across North America. Essentially all jurisdictions have temporarily closed these facilities and as a result, our charitable gaming and egaming revenue has been mostly eliminated. This revenue reduction is expected to continue during the period these outlets are closed. There is no clear indication when jurisdictions may reopen these establishments or when we can expect retail sales of charitable gaming products to return to their pre-existing levels.
Our American Games and International Gamco business units remain operational at this time and continue to produce inventory to help address a significant backlog of orders that had developed due to strong customer demand prior to the closure of the various social settings. This replenishment of our pull-tab and bingo paper inventory levels will allow us to be strongly positioned to meet our customer demand when the retail locations are allowed to reopen.
Pollard is also taking steps across our charitable gaming businesses to minimize our losses during this period. Discretionary expenses have been eliminated and capital expenditure projects postponed. In addition, temporary staff furloughs, workshare programs among employees and salary reductions across management have been implemented throughout our operations. We do not make these decisions lightly and in all cases we are working closely with employees and governments to take advantage of various programs that provide financial support for our staff in these difficult times.
The situation we are all facing is unprecedented and has been changing very quickly. Based on the current impact of the virus on our business, we would estimate that our overall consolidated revenue could be reduced in the 25-30% range compared to the prior year during this period of decreased sales. We have implemented cost reduction strategies to minimize the impact of the revenue reduction, which will evolve as the situation changes.
Pollard has significant financial strength and a number of sources of liquidity to allow us to weather this period of reduced sales. In addition to our expenditure reduction initiatives, our balance sheet is strong with substantial available cash resources and access to additional funding through an undrawn secured senior bank facility that provides considerable readily available liquidity including a large accordion feature. Our working capital levels going into this period were high, providing further liquidity as we collect our receivables. The Pollard family, 67.5% shareholders, remain very committed to our business through their leadership and continued financial backing.
“The situation relating to the COVID-19 virus is changing very rapidly and will undoubtedly continue to do so,” commented Doug Pollard, Co-Chief Executive Officer, Pollard Banknote. “However, the long-term business fundamentals of the lottery and charitable gaming industries remain extremely positive. Our organization is very strong and will be able to withstand this difficult period. When markets start to open up again we expect our products to bounce back very quickly.”
“Having been established over 110 years ago in 1907, Pollard clearly focuses on taking the long-term view through our vision and commitment to our stakeholders. The Pollard family and all of our more than 1,900 dedicated team members remain committed to growing our world class organization and being the partner of choice to our lottery and charitable gaming customers, now and in the future.”
About Pollard Banknote
Pollard Banknote is a leading lottery partner to more than 60 lotteries worldwide, providing high quality instant ticket products, licensed games, Schafer Systems and Fastrak retail merchandising solutions, and a full suite of digital offerings, ranging from world-class mkodo game apps to comprehensive player engagement and iLottery solutions, including strategic marketing and management services. The company is a proven innovator and has decades of experience helping lotteries to maximize player engagement, sales, and proceeds for good causes. Pollard Banknote also provides pull-tab tickets, bingo paper, and its Diamond Game and Oasis-branded electronic ticket machines to charitable and other gaming markets in North America. Established in 1907, Pollard Banknote is owned approximately 67.5% by the Pollard family and 32.5% by public shareholders, and is publicly traded on the TSX (PBL). For more information, please visit our website at www.pollardbanknote.com.
Certain statements in this press release may constitute “forward-looking” statements and information, which involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors that may cause actual results, performance, or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance, or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. When used in this document, such statements include such words as “may,” “will,” “expect,” “believe,” “plan,” and other similar terminology. These statements reflect management’s current expectations regarding future events and operating performance and speak only as of the date of this document. There should not be an expectation that such information will in all circumstances be updated, supplemented, or revised whether as a result of new information, changing circumstances, future events, or otherwise.
Co-Chief Executive Officer
Co-Chief Executive Officer
Chief Financial Officer
Pollard Banknote Limited
Telephone: (204) 474-2323