‘Urban Village’ will entice diners and event organisers
October 30, 2017
Members of the Auckland Trotting Club formally received and signed off their 2017 Annual Report at the organisation’s Annual General Meeting this week.
And the good news is the iconic club has an increasing number of Indian Aucklanders supporting and frequenting its functions facilities.
Alexandra Park Chief Executive Dominique Dowding said that considerable progress has been made on the club’s number one strategic priority to reinvigorate harness racing.
Urban Village coming up
This was helped by the fact that all 246 apartments in the club’s mixed-use development had sold unconditionally – raising nearly $295 million, with the ‘urban village’ on Green Lane West now well under construction.
“The ongoing development of Green Lane West will ensure the club can keep revitalising both its venues and products going forward. For example, by 2018/19 the club will be receiving additional revenue via the likes of its new retail leases,” Ms Dowding said.
Auckland Trotting Club president Bruce Carter said that the past year was one of continued improvement for the club’s financial position, with a substantial uplift in the valuation of its total assets.
This follows recent rezoning approval and subdivision consent for the rest of Alexandra Park’s Green Lane West frontage.
“The club has increased its net asset base to $164 million in 2017 and is one of the strongest asset-based racing clubs in New Zealand, something its members can be proud of,” he Mr Carter said.
Overall, the club reported a net surplus of over $6.5 million for the 2016/17 financial year. It also reported an operating profit after depreciation and amortisation of $69,000 – which was $519,000 better than the $450,000 loss budgeted for the same period.
Mr Carter reported on the growth in stakes, with the club’s goal to increase them further over the next five-years.
This year, with the help of the New Zealand Racing Board, the club increased the minimum stake per race at Alexandra Park to $12,000 – the highest for a harness racing club in New Zealand.
Mr Carter said that says further increases to stakes will be made possible with the completion of the development.
He thanked members for their ongoing support and reassured them the board and staff are fully committed to ensuring the Auckland Trotting Club’s core ideals are upheld.
Changing Race Season
Ms Dowding reflected on the changing racing scene in recent decades, and how in 2013 the club’s board and management embarked on an ambitious and aggressive strategy with the vision to ensure future sustainability and control its own destiny. Since then, enormous work has gone into reshaping and extracting the highest and best use of the club’s land holdings.
“Four years ago, when the strategy was deployed, we had a declining racing industry, funding had plateaued, over $16 million in deferred maintenance, an asset that was in dire need of revitalisation, and an organisation that had flat-lined through a lack of reinvestment.
“Today there are positive signs for our industry via the growth in funding, stakes and an extremely bright future for the business of the Auckland Trotting Club. An increase in industry funding has not only enabled an increase in our stakes, but the number of race meetings has also increased from 37 to 41 for the 2017/18 season,” she said.
The Annual Report showed that demand for Alexandra Park’s functions facilities and its meetings business continues.
In 2016-2017, the food and beverage division earned around $6.2 million in revenue, of which the contribution of the function centre was $4.6 million.
The functions team managed over 867 events, achieving occupancy levels consistent with the previous year.
Race night dining grew strongly with revenue per race night up 16% on the previous year. While the sponsorship team was successful in attracting $790,000 of revenue – an increase of 6.5%.
The club’s commissions from its onsite TAB increased following a staggering operating result. In the past year the TAB at Alexandra Park lifted its turnover from $15.7 million to $22 million – an annual turnover that puts it $10 million higher than its closest TAB competitor and cements it as New Zealand’s largest.
The club’s property division contributed $2.6 million in revenue this year up from $2.3 million in 2016. This was driven by an increase in income from the club’s existing rental properties and by strong parking revenues including from visiting campervans during the Lions Tour.
Overall operational savings were also reported, and a commitment was made that costs will continue to be challenged throughout the organisation.
Ms Dowding said that 62% of the club’s total revenue is now generated by other departments outside of racing which continues to grow. Nonetheless at 38%, racing income growth remains important.
Field sizes have increased from 9.3 to 9.7, while the amalgamation in recent years to create the Franklin Park Training Centre continues to deliver, with the numbers of horse training at Pukekohe lifting on average from 120 to 240.
Looking forward to the coming year, the club will ensure the development is completed, as well as roll out its new strategic plan for the next five years – again in the name of sustaining harness racing into the future.
In racing, the club aims to continue to raise the numbers of owners, young trainers and drivers helped by a continued lift in stakes, as well as work to attract and grow new audiences. On other aspects of its business the club will continue to improve customer service, focus on driving overall sales and additional revenue streams, as well as review its current assets and venues.
With the opening of its urban village next year, including new restaurants and cafes, the club is determined to “bring back Alexandra Park as an attractive destination.”
At the Annual General Meeting, Auckland Trotting Club members voted on the election of board members and the return of Bruce Carter as president. Members also voted in a new constitution, and were advised that a decision around whether to roll out a further stage of the club’s urban village development would be made later this year or early next year after a review of market conditions.