Ladbrokes to focus on digital strategy in H2

Britain's second-biggest bookmaker Ladbrokes said on Thursday it would focus on its ailing digital business in the second half after profit from that division fell in the first six months of the year.

Overall group operating profit rose 11 per cent to £106.9m in the first half, the bookmaker said.

Growth in its British high street business and an improved performance in European retail and telephone businesses helped to offset a decline in digital - a growth area for many rivals.

The company had already warned in June that profits from its digital division would fall more than expected in the first half due to a delay in technology upgrades and a poor sportsbook margin. On Monday, it announced that Richard Ames, responsible for trading and IT, was stepping down.

Ames, who has been placed on gardening leave, would get a compensation payment of £506,585 when he leaves the company, Ladbrokes said today.

The company announced a series of management changes today to support its digital drive. As part of these, director of IT Mark Grimes would join the executive committee.