Over $940k in MLT grants last year

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The Mataura Licensing Trust poured more than $940,000 into the community through grants in the last financial year, the latest provisional report shows.

MLT president Horace McAuley said in the report on the financial year ending March 31, 2017, the MLT had granted $17 million to the community in the past 15 years.

“I am pleased to report that .. $941,081 was returned to the community, of which $500,709 was returned as a charge against profits and $440,372 was distributed through gaming through The Trusts Community Foundation,” Mr McAuley said.

Core business sales rose 1.3% to $22.6 million, which was pleasing given the number of negative factors during the past couple of years impacting on the rural economy, he said.

Operationally, the highlight was the increased turnover in accommodation, which was up 22%, vindicating the board’s decision to upgrade the main accommodation, reception and restaurant areas at the Heartland Hotel Croydon in Gore.

“It was also pleasing that meals were up 4.2% and bottle store sales were up 1.22% across the trust in a non-field days year.”

Bar sales dipped 2.3%, continuing the downward trend since the introduction of heavier drink-driving regulations and the negative connotations surrounding the old drinking culture that had been prevalent in New Zealand for more than 100 years, Mr McAuley said.

The net loss of $265,000 was helped significantly by the Heartland Hotel turnaround but offset by $300,000 spent refurbishing the Three Rivers Hotel, which was better than last year.

“We would expect further improvement in the next financial year and have budgeted for break even and a return to profitability in 2018-19.”

The MLT had spent $700,000 upgrading and extending Super Liquor.

“Significantly in the first six months of trading it has grown the bottle store trade in Gore by $100,000.”

The trust has no major projects planned for the 2017-18 year apart from a “spruce-up” of the bar at the Longford Tavern, he said.

Mr McAuley said several exciting projects were under way in the Gore district that would benefit the trust’s businesses in the coming year and the board looked forward to the Southern Field Days early next year.

“The trust is in good heart.”

MLT general manager Mark Paterson said donations made to the community were on a par with last year. He stressed the provisional results still had to be ratified by the auditors.

Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks said the MLT pouring funds into the community was “incredibly significant”.

The funds had given people and organisations the opportunity to develop and prosper, Mr Hicks said.

“In my view we’d be all the poorer if we didn’t have it,” he said.

He commended the MLT on a good provisional result.