Ladbroke Sunday U-turn

Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14, Telephone 0171 293 2000.Fax: 0171 293 2096. Email: dj68@independent.co.uk

LEISURE group Ladbroke, Britain's biggest bookmaker, will make an embarrassing U-turn today, reopening key outlets for Sunday betting in spite of poor turnouts. The reversal comes just a fortnight after it decided to close its betting shops on the Sabbath to try to save pounds 250,000 a day.

A small number of shops will open today "in commercially competitive locations". One site is Chinatown in London's Soho: when all three Ladbroke shops there shut two weeks ago, punters reported "an unbearable crush" in the rival Coral shop.

Ladbroke still has not announced what it will do about Sunday racing dates after today, but the move to scrap the experiment early is seen as an admission that it cannot leave the market to its competitors. Loyal customers who visit a rival on a Sunday might decide to take their business there all week long.

Ladbroke was one of the main advocates of Sunday racing before it was introduced earlier this year, but turned cool on the concept when the public, confused by an intermittent calendar, gave their high street shops a wide berth on the Sabbath.

Its decision to return to the field, though on a smaller scale, comes as the battered company prepares to reveal disappointing interim results on Thursday. As well as the Sunday betting fiasco, it has faced unprecedented pressure from the National Lottery.

Profit forecasts for the gaming division, which includes 1,900 betting shops and the Vernon's football pools operation, have been scaled back by pounds 10m-15m ahead of the figures for the six months to June. Brokers NatWest now expect a 3 per cent decline to just under pounds 48m.

Ladbroke's hotels side, which operates all the Hiltons outside the US, has fared better, however, and after paying an interest bill of almost pounds 50m, group half-year profits should come in at pounds 60m against pounds 51.3m in the corresponding period last year.

Last month Ladbroke axed 200 jobs in the face of unexpectedly stiff competition from the Lottery. Vernons has cut 95 of its 500 staff and seen sales fall by more than 15 per cent sinceits launch last November.

Although spending on "instant-win" scratchcards has declined from a peak of pounds 44.4m in the last week of May to around pounds 25m in August, weekly on-line tickets remain very popular, with sales averagingpounds 65m.

A recent report from the Henley Centre, an independent forecasting institute, predicted that the lottery would cause an 8 per cent drop in betting turnover this year and industry profits could fall by 30 per cent, with the loss of 6,500 jobs.

Ladbroke received another blow last week when Camelot, the National Lottery organiser, announced that weekly tickets and scratchcards are to be sold in 70 pubs and clubs in a pilot scheme beginning in the next fortnight. The betting industry is upset because other forms of gambling on licensed premises are banned by law.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Neil Young performs on stage at Hyde Park
musicAnd his Hyde Park set has rhyme and reason, writes Nick Hasted
News
Women have been desperate to possess dimples like Cheryl Cole's
people Cole has secretly married French boyfriend Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini after just three months.
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Extras
indybestThe tastiest creations for children’s parties this summer
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Paolo Nutini performs at T in the Park
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Sales Executive - Central London /Home working - £20K-£40K

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Sales Executive - Ce...

HR Advisor - 6 months FTC Wimbledon, SW London

£35000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - 6 Months Fix...

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor