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Mark Paterson, Mataura Licensing Trust general manager. PHOTO: ENSIGN FILES

The Mataura Licensing Trust has had a stellar year, recording a pre-tax profit of $784,000 and distributing $996,000 to the community through grants.

MLT general manager Mark Paterson said the financial review for 2017-18 showed $996,000 was returned to the community, of which $445,000 was returned as a charge against profits and $551,000 was distributed through its gaming arm, The Trusts Community Foundation (TTCF).

“Gaming revenue was up 15%, which is definitely against the national trend but is in line with the increased bar trade in MLT units,” Mr Paterson said.

Mr Paterson said sales topped $23.95million, which was a record.

That figure was up $1.27million (6%) on 2016-17, and had resulted in a healthy pre-tax profit of $784,000 compared with a loss of $265,000 in 2016-17.

“Accommodation led the charge, up 13% to $1.1million, followed by both bar and bottle store trade up 6% to $3.8million and $15million respectively and food up 1% to $3.83million,” Mr Paterson said.

“There was a number of reasons why trade has increased markedly such as better weather January to March compared to the previous year, Waimumu field days in February, construction of the Mataura Valley Milk operation, a younger, more energetic, focused management team promoting the business and lastly a feel-good factor in the community,” he said.

He said sundry income rose 4% to $1.26million, helped again by the improved rents and sales performance attracting more rebates and dividends from trade suppliers.

Running costs had been reduced 10% this year, returning to levels not seen since 2014.

“By [the 2017-18] year’s end, the trust is debt-free after borrowing for the recent expansion of the Super Liquor store, the Three Rivers Hotel restaurant and dining upgrade and the [Heartland Hotel] Croydon refurbishment.

“The trust continues to return significant contributions to the stakeholders of the trust.”

Green Public House and Dining Room to improve efficiencies and encourage patrons to use the bar facilities more, he said.

In March next year, the trust would start on an upgrade of the 16 motel units at Heartland Hotel Croydon to finish that complex’s upgrade.

Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks said there was very little in terms of increased capacity in the district that had not been contributed to by the MLT.

“In my view, the contribution the MLT has made to this community is immense and it is long term and it is very important to the community,” Mr Hicks said.

It had been a pleasure to partner with the MLT on projects over the years, Mr Hicks said.

Projects included the Gore Multisport Complex, the artificial hockey turf, the Gore Kids Hub and the upgrade of the St James Theatre.