Heatwave slows machine sales at Ladbrokes

Kasmira Jefford
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LADBROKES said yesterday profits almost halved in the first six months of the year, blaming July’s heatwave as customers shunned gaming machines at its high street outlets.

Pre-tax profits at the betting company slumped 48.5 per cent to £55.1m for the six months to 30 June, down from £106.9m in the same period last year.

This was largely driven by a 19.8 per cent fall in operating profits to £18.1m at its retail division, hit by the recent tax on gaming machines and the lack of football tournaments this year.

Chief executive Richard Glynn also said “the hottest July since 1976” had exacerbated the slowdown in the use of its machines, which account for around half of all retail earnings.

The group said it was no longer expecting like-for-like growth for the rest of the year from machines, once one of its main growth drivers.

The statement comes after a surprise profit warning in April when poor takings at the Cheltenham Festival and horse race cancellations hit profits.

Ladbrokes reported one-off costs of £21.8m in the first half, largely related to its new partnership with Playtech that will see a new mobile gambling site launched early next year.

Glynn said he was disappointed that progress in reshaping the business was not yet reflected in the bottom line.