Praesepe rings the changes at the top but Harding remains as advisor

Praesepe rings the changes at the top but Harding remains as advisor

Tuesday, June 26, 2018 Posted by Luke Massey
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Harding has stepped down after more than 10 years as CEO

The Gauselmann Group has made a big change at the top of its UK adult gaming centre (AGC) business, Praesepe. Nick Harding, the man at the helm for more than 10 years as CEO, steps down to take an alternative role within the organisation where his focus will be ‘UK market advisory’-led.

In recruiting a new CEO, Gauselmann has looked to promote one of its key figures, Stefan Bruns, who has previously served the company as director of operations for Casino Merkur International where he was responsible for managing 400 venues Europe-wide.

Bruns has been a senior partner in the Gauselmann Group since 2014, leading a number of international expansion projects for the group’s Merkur Gaming division.

Joining Bruns at Praesepe is Börris Lüngen, who becomes CFO. Described by the company as a ‘25-year finance veteran’, he joins the UK arcade operator from the well-known German wholesale food retailer Metro Makro. During his time there he led group logistics for new Eastern European markets.

In an update to investors, Gauselmann outlined the rationale behind the changes, simply stating that it had installed an effective leadership team in Bruns and Lüngen to lead Praesepe’s UK market expansion and future growth projects.

As for Harding, in his new position he will assume responsibility for all political and industry association liaison and public relations for Gauselmann's UK operating interests including, in addition to Praesepe, Blueprint Gaming, Regal Gaming and Leisure, and Betcom.

He will report to company founder and chairman of the management board Paul Gauselmann and Manfred Stoffers, Gauselmann management board member responsible for marketing, communications and political affairs.

A Gauselmann press statement read: "We are delighted that with Nick Harding we have been able to enlist a long-time colleague who is a recognised expert in terms of the company, the industry and the relevant legislation for the realignment of our political and public communication activities in the UK.

“We are confident that the experience he brings to the job will enable him to inject fresh momentum and generate beneficial synergies for all operating subsidiaries in Britain. We wish him all the best in his new role."

Praesepe was formed in October 2007 when Harding took control of a cash shell called Aldgate Capital. With the help of Marwyn Partners (a public markets investor who took a cornerstone investment position in the business) further equity was raised and a number of acquisitions were made in the UK AGC (arcade gaming) sector. In 2009, the company was renamed Praesepe.

In 2009 Praesepe acquired the interests of the Beacon Group. This comprised some 28 AGC venues and six licensed bingo clubs. One of these was the Beacon Club in North London, generally regarded as the largest bingo club in Europe. Later that same year Praesepe acquired a further three bingo sites from the Noble Organisation.

In the autumn of 2012 Praesepe was acquired by the Gauselmann Group, which trades in over 40 countries and is generally regarded as among the foremost providers of gaming machines in Europe. Praesepe currently operates 181 arcades and bingo clubs with 9,417 amusement and gaming machines in the UK and has over 1,800 employees. It became part of the Gauselmann Group in 2012.

Totally Gaming says: Gauselmann’s decision to introduce fresh personnel at the top of its UK AGC business will be viewed as a step change by the industry per se and the group’s close competitors. But it’s not entirely a new broom sweeping clean with Nick Harding being retained in a key advisory role. He has more than three decades' experience in the gambling industry and has been involved in a range of industry bodies and associations, notably serving as president of amusement industry trade association BACTA. It’s the kind of experience that money can’t buy!

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