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Sunday 4 December 2016

Ladbrokes will act quickly on Irish crisis

BETTING

jim mullen
jim mullen

The decision by Ladbrokes to seek examinership for its business in Ireland "demonstrates the seriousness of our intent", according to chief executive Jim Mullen.

The UK betting group released first quarter trading figures yesterday that showed its revenue in Ireland declined 1pc in the period.

On Tuesday, Ladbrokes said that an interim examiner had been appointed to its Irish business after it notched up a €5m loss last year and continued to struggle.

It's believed that Ladbrokes will close about 60 of its 196 stores in the Republic, and make about 250 of its 840 staff here redundant. It's hoping to achieve most of the layoffs via voluntary redundancies.

"I believe strongly in Ladbrokes," said Mr Mullen.

"We have laid solid operational foundations but there is still a lot to be done."

The decision to seek examinership in Ireland demonstrates the seriousness of our intent and the speed with which we will execute."

The examinership process can last up to 100 days. It's thought that most of the stores the group intends to close in Ireland are either tied into onerous leases or are in locations that don't have high footfall.

"The action taken today by the directors of the Irish companies is to safeguard the Irish business which in its current state is not sustainable and cannot be supported by the Ladbrokes board without radical change, having lost its competitive edge," said Mr Mullen this week.

Shares in Ladbrokes had fallen 2.7pc by midday yesterday, and have declined about a third over the past year.

Ladbrokes said that trading in the first quarter of the year was hit by unfavourable sporting results, as well as tax increases in the UK. Group net revenue rose 3.3pc in the period, while earnings before interest and tax fell 22pc to £14.3m (€20m).

"Results have favoured customers and profits are materially down," said Mr Mullen.

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