Sporting results dent Ladbrokes profits

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The Independent Online

Ladbrokes today said unfavourable results from Euro 2008 and Royal Ascot reduced first half profits at its high street betting shop business.

The company's UK retail arm posted profits of £98.3 million, down 2.6 per cent on a year earlier after "a number of poor sporting results" hit margins in June.

Group profits were down to £126.7 million from £154.4 million after the surplus generated by "high-roller" customers reduced by £20 million to £40 million.

Chief executive Christopher Bell described the first half of the company's financial year as "satisfactory" and said the group remained on track to meet its full-year expectations.



Mr Bell's optimism reflected trading at the start of the second half-year, with gross win between July 1 and August 5 up 11 per cent overall and by 6 per cent in UK retail. Gross win is the amount left behind by losing punters.

The figure for the first half in UK retail was up by 6.5 per cent to £394.3 million, with most of the improvement stemming from gaming machines after the roll-out of new products and longer shop opening hours.

The gross win from over-the-counter betting grew 0.9 per cent to £251.8 million, aided by a strong start to the financial year. But this was offset by a poor performance in June, when results went against the company during the early part of Euro 2008 and at the Royal Ascot race meeting.

Ladbrokes supported its Euro 2008 operation with a new TV advertisement featuring the same ex-footballers that appeared in the company's first ever TV campaign for betting - Ally McCoist, Ian Wright, Lee Dixon and Chris Kamara.

Football delivered a good return for the industry earlier in the year, helped by three English teams in the Champions League semi-finals and Manchester United and Chelsea contesting the tightest Premier League in years.

Ladbrokes has 2,600 betting shops in the UK, Ireland and continental Europe. It also has an e-gaming division, which maintained half-year profits at £26.2 million for the half-year.

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