Echo unveils Gold Coast plans

Entertainment group courts high-rollers with $1.5bn redevelopment of Jupiters.

Echo Entertainment (EGP) has unveiled plans to invest up to $1.5 billion in redeveloping its Jupiters Gold Coast facilities, including a new six-star hotel with VIP facilities to capture the lucrative high-rolling Asian market.

The plans under consideration, which the group aims to implement by the second half of 2014, include a new six-star hotel, new VIP gaming and private gaming room facilities and "significant expansion" in food and beverage venues.

At the gaming group's annual general meeting today, chief executive officer John Redmond said the group planned to retain Jupiters' existing infrastructure "but bring it to a level that the Gold Coast can truly sell as a world class, must visit destination".

He said the hotel design would be competitive with the "best available anywhere in Asia" and would be a major tourist drawcard for the region.

"The investment and timing will be subject to the receipt of various approvals," Mr Redmond said.

Positive outlook

Mr Redmond told shareholders the group's earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation had experienced marginal growth in the financial year to date as the benefits of its cost-cutting program and Absolute Rewards loyalty program flowed through.

He said that while subdued consumer spending continued to impact on revenue, a more profitable marketing strategy was paying off and it remained bullish on its revamped VIP and loyalty programs.

"The VIP business has continued to see growth in front money in the first four months of the year, however the rate of growth has moderated significantly after a strong start to the year in July and August," Mr Redmond said.

"It is not uncommon for the VIP business volumes to experience volatility from month to month and the overall momentum and full year outlook for the VIP business remains positive," he said.

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