Operator Talk: Ladbrokes will benefit from digital investment – Erskine

Operator Talk: Ladbrokes will benefit from digital investment – Erskine

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Ladbrokes will benefit from its investment in digital operations din the future, despite posting a year-on-year drop in profits for 2014, chairman Peter Erskine said today (Thursday).

The UK bookmaker, which announced its preliminary results today, said that although total revenue had increased by 3.8 per cent to £1.2bn ($1.85bn/€1.65bn), group operating profit had dipped by 9.3 per cent to £125.4m.

In comparison with some of its rivals, Ladbrokes has been playing catch-up with its digital offering.

Digital revenue did increase by 22.9 per cent to £215.1m, but with retail-generated profits falling by 11 per cent to £119.3m, Erskine admitted there is plenty of work to be done.

“In the exceptional numbers is a cost for taking the next step in our digital journey,” Erskine said. “Our mobile sportsbook has led the digital business and set the standards for our ability to offer the customer what they want.

“Our success is in operating our mobile offering and the positive customer response means our exceptional charges also include a move from our current desktop to a new Mobenga-based product.

“It will give our digital customers a seamless experience. This is a bold and innovative move to ensure we remain competitive in the medium term.”

Despite the impending departure of chief executive Richard Glynn this year, Erskine said there was “no hiatus and no stalling on pushing the business forward”.

Ladbrokes reported strong growth across its sportsbook business, with the amount staked in the overall division up 32 per cent.

Total dividend per share remained level at 8.9p while Ladbrokes also confirmed it would be closing 60 of its betting shops.

Erskine added: “We knew 2014 would be a critical year. We focused on moving from delivery in the first half and growth in the second. We have ticked the boxes against those targets.

“Retail numbers are significant and I hope they send the message that there is a consequence for jobs and in investment when it comes to increasing the tax and regulation burden on the industry.”

By the close of trading today on the London Stock Exchange, Ladbrokes’ share price had improved by 5.7 per cent to nearly £1.21.

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