Ladbrokes hit by a betting downturn despite World Cup

LADBROKES yesterday said the amount staked by punters at its UK shops fell seven per cent even taking into account a boost from the World Cup.

However, the bookmaker said it would resume dividend payments.

Revenues from over-the-counter betting fell six per cent in the six months to the end of June but a better performance from the company’s 8,000-strong estate of gaming machines meant overall revenues for the UK retail business fell 3.2 per cent to £332.7m.

Profits fell 6.3 per cent to £76.9m as a planned material reduction in free promotional bets offset the lower stakes and gross win seen in over-the-counter betting.

Ladbrokes said it would pay an interim dividend of 3.85p per share. It stopped paying dividends at the interim stage last year on the back of tough trading conditions and ahead of an equity fundraising.

Meanwhile, new Ladbrokes chief executive Richard Glynn stamped his mark on the bookmaker with the announcement of an operational shake-up.

Glynn, who joined the company from Sporting Index in April, has undertaken an operational review as he looks to close the gap on rival William Hill, which has outperformed Ladbrokes in recent times, particularly in online gambling.

The review -- “Project Galvanise” -- has identified a number of areas in which Ladbrokes can improve its performance.

Glynn said: “These include a focus on the customer, improving the ‘e’ performance, the brand effectiveness and enhancing the technology background of the group.” Ladbrokes also said that Nick Rust will join the company from rival Gala Coral early next year to take up the position of retail managing director.