BETTING machines in Ladbrokes’ high street outlets helped the bookie to improve profits in the first half of the year despite its online revenues plummeting.
Ladbrokes said pre-tax profit rose 49 per cent on the same period last year to £106.9m, with revenue up eight per cent to £529m. This was almost entirely driven by increased use of gaming machines at the company’s 2,150 betting shops, with Ladbrokes estimating it will have opened 100 new high street stores by the end of the year.
However, there was bad news on the digital front, with online profits halved at £15m. Chief executive Richard Glynn said Ladbrokes’ website’s performance was “disappointing” but promised improved performance with the launch of the new online operation later in the year. “The real focus is driving digital profitability but we must put that in the context of a particularly strong UK retail performance,” he said.
Ladbrokes sacked its head of online strategy Richard Ames earlier this week following repeated delays to the launch of the revamped website and mobile service, which has seen more than £50m of investment in the last two years, and a profit warning in June.
The bookmaker has struggled to make a breakthrough in online gambling as rivals William Hill and Bet365 have made gains.
Despite Ladbrokes’ online woes, its high street performance was strong enough for the firm to raise its interim share dividend from 3.9p to 4.3p per share.
“Looking forward we expect to see further growth in UK retail and plan to accelerate our programme of shop openings,” Glynn said.