Jobs in danger as Ladbrokes looks at drastic action for Irish arm
The Irish arm of betting chain Ladbrokes could see job losses after the British bookmaker confirmed it is looking at "drastic action" as part of an urgent review of its loss-making business here.
UK-based Ladbrokes has 196 outlets in Ireland, but has failed to return those shops to overall profitability.
Ladbrokes, which employs about 1,000 people here and controls about 20pc of the retail betting market, said yesterday that it has engaged a team to undertake a "fundamental review" of its Republic of Ireland business to "establish options to take this business forward".
A spokesman told the Irish Independent the review is likely to be completed within weeks and followed by "drastic action".
Asked whether Ladbrokes remains committed in the long term to the Irish market and whether staff should be fearful for their jobs, he said the bookie will "look at all options".
"The team will be looking at what urgent action it can take," he added.
The spokesman said that in the past, the Irish business had performed well. However, he said a decision to integrate its operations here with those in the UK hasn't worked out.
"Strategically, Ladbrokes took a decision to merge operations with the UK. It hasn't worked out well," he said.
Ladbrokes closed 13 of its outlets in the Republic of Ireland last year. The spokesman said that Ireland remains an attractive market for the chain. It first started operating here in 1986.
"Although Ireland's economy continues to improve, we have seen a decline in profitability reflecting continuing highly competitive conditions in the Republic of Ireland," the company said as it issued full-year financial results yesterday.
Ladbrokes said that its operating profit in Ireland - including its business in Northern Ireland - tumbled 57pc to £4.4m (€6m) in 2014. The operation in the Republic of Ireland was loss-making, it said, and "did not deliver on its plan".
Ladbrokes has 79 outlets in Northern Ireland and its business there is profitable.
The company - which has struggled to beef up its digital offering to meet the challenge of rivals including Paddy Power and William Hill - also said that it's closing a total of 60 more UK outlets this year after closing 89 loss-making shops last year.
It has blamed "regulatory headwinds" for the decision. It has more than 2,000 outlets in the UK.
Group pre-exceptional operating profits at Ladbrokes fell 9.3pc last year to £125.4m (€171.5m).
Outgoing chief executive Richard Glynn said the company remains confident of its prospects for 2015.
Mr Glynn also said that 2014 had been a "pivotal year" for the development of the company's digital platform.
Revenue at the group rose 3.8pc last year to £1.15bn (€1.58bn).