Business World

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Ladbrokes' sales advance in Ireland despite smaller wagers by punters

Published 22/02/2013 | 04:00

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Soccer matches like Wednesday’s Champions’ League first leg tie between Barcelona and AC Milan boosted Ladbrokes’ bottom line last year. The bookmaker made a fortune on results such as Milan’s unexpected 2-0 win over the heavily favoured Spanish side, which cleaned out punters and filled the coffers of the country’s bookies

UK betting business Ladbrokes, which last month agreed to pay €30m to buy Dermot Desmond's Betdaq, said it delivered a "strong group performance" in 2012.

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The Irish retail business also performed well, said Ladbrokes, despite the economic climate here and even as the amounts staked at its outlets fell 10.2pc to £535.7m (€617m) as a number of horse race meetings were cancelled in the year.

Group operating profits rose 8pc to £206.1m (€238m), while net revenue was 7.4pc higher at £1.05bn (€1.2bn).

In Ireland, Ladbrokes said that net revenue rose 1pc to £80m, while operating profit jumped 54.3pc to £14.2m before exceptional items.

The results include Ladbrokes' 213 shops in the Republic and 79 in Northern Ireland.

"Within the context of the continuing economic downturn and highly competitive trading environment, particularly in the Republic of Ireland, we have continued to focus our efforts on reducing our operational cost base," said the company.

"Costs of £58.4m were down 6pc on 2011 and down 1.3pc on a constant currency basis."

It said that it expected tough trading to prevail in Ireland, although it does expect legislation to be introduced to allow extended trading hours here.

Shares in the company fell over 3pc even as it said that its digital strategy was paying off and it benefited from upsets at UK football matches during the final quarter of the year. The decline in its shares also came even as it announced a 14.1pc increase in its full-year dividend.

Chief executive Richard Glynn said Ladbrokes intended to open 100 more stores this year and would focus on areas of "unmet demand" to drive growth.

He cautioned that economic conditions remained challenging and that there's "much to do" to complete the company's transformation of its digital business.

Revenue at its digital unit rose 9pc last year to £178.1m. UK retail revenue rose 8pc to £739.5m.

Ladbrokes agreed to pay €15m in cash and €15m worth of its own shares to buy Betdaq.

It will also pay an unspecified earn-out based on the growth in Betdaq's adjusted gross profits between the end of 2012 and the end of 2016.

Irish Independent

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