Bookmakers betting on solid future
Northwest Bookmakers is a subsidiary of Ladbrokes Holdings (NI) which is, in turn, a subsidiary of the parent company Ladbroke plc. Following a purchase in 2007, this business has brought together the betting businesses formerly owned by Eastwoods and McCartans.
As a result of the expanded investment, during 2008, Northwest Bookmakers added intangible assets (business licences and goodwill) valued at £124m to its balance sheet. The purchase was financed by registering a credit with the parent company which, at the end on 2010, was owed nearly £128m.
The company, using the Ladbrokes brand, ultimately expects to continue to expand its presence in Northern Ireland. The company owns 24% of the shop betting licences issued here. However, the directors do not foresee further consolidation in the current economic environment.
In a reflection on the impact of the current recession, the company reports that in 2010 the average stake per betting slip was £9.22. This compares with an average stake of £9.33 in 2009 which was also down by 33p on the 2008 figure. The value of an average betting slip was therefore down by 4% in two years. However, total turnover was up by 11% so that the number of customers had risen by about 15% since 2008.
Comparisons of profitability in recent years are made more complex by a reversal in 2009 of an impairment charge of over £380,000 which had been deducted from the profit figures in 2008 and then in 2010 by the deduction of an exceptional charge of £1.97m related to pension funds.
Operating profit in 2009 was just under 3% of turnover, compared to 4% a year earlier. In 2010, the ratio of operating profit to turnover improved again to 3.6%.
Employment in the company fell fractionally in 2010 to an average of 457 people.