Ladbrokes boosted by online gaming
Ladbrokes reported a 20pc jump in annual profits today as the UK's biggest bookmaker overcame a 7pc fall in bets staked at its shop counters.
The group, which has 2,100 outlets in the UK, benefited from online demand for in-play wagers and the continued roll-out of new gaming machines at its UK high street retail division.
Across the group, profits excluding the impact of high-roller betting showed a 20pc increase to £202.3m in the year to December 31.
Ladbrokes said the high street business was impacted by challenging economic conditions and the loss of a significant number of horseracing fixtures due to the weather.
The amount of over-the-counter bets staked by customers fell 7pc to £2.5bn but was offset by a 4pc rise in machine bets to £9.2bn.
The gross win - the amount left by losing punters - rose 1.4pc to £719.8m and with Ladbrokes reducing overheads by £3.7m in the year the company improved retail operating profits by 11pc to £149.1m.
During the year, Ladbrokes opened 40 new shops, closed 30 and carried out a further 102 shop refurbishments. It plans to open another 50 shops this year with 20 outlets scheduled for closure.
In digital, Ladbrokes grew profits by 36pc to £62.7m after the football World Cup boosted player numbers and produced good margins for the firm.
Revenues from online sports betting grew 16.9pc to £65.1m, driven by a 19pc rise in pre-event turnover and 11.2pc growth for in-play betting.
Horseracing margins softened due to the introduction of an odds guarantee promotion in August and relatively poor results in some of the significant racing festivals of the year, including the Grand National and Royal Ascot.
Chief executive Richard Glynn, who has overseen a strategic review of the business since taking the helm last year, said the group was in good shape.
Having extended its in-play offering and launched new mobile phone apps, Mr Glynn said the company expected to invest an additional £50m during 2011 and 2012 in order to further improve its technology.
He added: "We have laid solid foundations in 2010 upon which to build. We have set out our strategic goals and we have a clear set of priorities on which to focus."