New Echo chief wants middle-market customers reaching for the Star

WHILE Echo Entertainment remains ready to battle James Packer's Crown over the VIP gambling market, its new chief executive, John Redmond, says it will not be losing focus on the "middle market" mainstay of its business at Sydney's Star casino.

WHILE Echo Entertainment remains ready to battle James Packer's Crown over the VIP gambling market, its new chief executive, John Redmond, says it will not be losing focus on the "middle market" mainstay of its business at Sydney's Star casino.

Mr Redmond will take over from Larry Mullin as chief executive next month, less than a year after being given regulatory approval to join Echo as a non-executive director.

"John Redmond brings to the job an invaluable balance of experience covering casino and entertainment management, financial management, listed company leadership and casino regulatory experience," the Echo chairman, John O'Neill, said.

The change of chief executive would not mean the company was abandoning its earnings targets from the just-completed $860 million revamp of the Star.

"The board indicated at the AGM that the targets are unchanged," Mr O'Neill said.

But while Mr Mullin's focus was on the VIP market, Mr Redmond indicated this would not be at the expense of middle-market customers, both local and from Asia.

"We are going to come at this from all angles, not just looking at this from the high end," Mr Redmond said.

"If you're going to chase the high end, you need to chase the base of the business too, to be able to take as much of the volatility out of the business as you can."

With this in mind, the $1 billion redevelopment of the surrounding Darling Harbour area - which includes a new concert hall, convention and exhibition space, as well as a 900-room hotel - is seen as a boon for the casino.

"If there's a 900-room hotel that's been built for people to stay in to attend the convention, well guess what, potentially they're our customers," Mr O'Neill said.

He said Echo had no interest in "me too" gambling facilities across

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