First-half profit at Ladbrokes’ Irish operation falls by 33.3%

FIRST-HALF operating profit at Ladbrokes’ Irish operations fell by 33.3%, on a year-on-year basis, to £3.8 million (€4.4m) as well-backed Irish horses cleaned up at high-profile meets like Cheltenham and Royal Ascot, the company said yesterday.

The British-owned betting company — the second largest player in the Irish market behind Paddy Power — added that net revenue at its Irish operations (which cover nearly 300 stores on the island of Ireland, 216 of which are in the Republic) fell by 3.3% during the first six months of this year, when compared with the same period last year, to £38.6m. Gross win amounts, or what the company makes from punters’ losing bets, were also down by 3.4% to £39.8m, but amounts staked grew by over 5% here.

“Despite tough economic conditions, amounts staked in the Republic grew by 6.9%, reflecting our strategy to reinvigorate the brand and work to grow market share on a localised basis,” the company said.

On a group-wide basis, Ladbrokes (which outside of Britain and Ireland also operates in parts of mainland Europe) said that its interim net revenue was up by 2.8% to £487.8m and operating profit was up by nearly 17% to £97.6m. First half pre-tax profits, however, fell by over £33m, from the same time last year, to £71.8m. The half-year dividend of 3.90p marks a 1.3% annualised increase and the group’s net debt levels were reduced by nearly £43m to £449.4m. Overall, however, the results were behind market expectations.

“The retail performance is encouraging, but the performance of the digital division continues to lag its peers,” said Gavin Kelleher of Goodbody Stockbrokers — who had anticipated a marginally better group revenue showing.

Although management didn’t update on the status of its takeover talks with online betting specialist, Sportingbet, they did say that the business is making “good progress” and is “on track with the delivery of operational and technology milestones.”

“Whilst remaining mindful of tough economic conditions and continuing uncertainty affecting consumer disposable incomes, we remain in line with board expectations for the full year,” added group chief executive Richard Glynn.

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