Ladbrokes Coral back in the black with pre-tax profits of nearly £7m
The Northern Ireland arm of bookmaker Ladbrokes Coral has returned to the black with pre-tax profits of £6.7m, a year after losses of nearly £36m.
Northwest Bookmakers, a subsidiary of parent Ladbrokes Coral plc, saw its profits slump in the year to December 2014.
It said the latest, healthy profits figure was due to an absence of any exceptional losses in the year to December 2015.
Ladbrokes operates more than 30 shops across Northern Ireland, with around a dozen each in Londonderry and Belfast.
Last year, Northwest Bookmakers' turnover fell from £23.1m to £22.4m.
Its average take slip was £8.60, up from £8.40.
The company employed 354 people during 2015, compared to 386 a year before.
The previous profits slump was down to an impairment charge of £44m.
The directors said the results were vulnerable to the general economic climate in Northern Ireland. Economic, consumer and environmental factors were all issues which could reduce disposable income for spending on betting, the explained.
But a company's report filed on December 1 made no reference to any risks posed by the Brexit result.
The firm's strategic report said: "Revenue and operating results may vary significantly from period to period.
"Customer betting patterns, particularly those who bet large stakes, the outcome of individual events or a prolonged period of good or bad results could have a material effect on results.
"Cancellation or curtailment of high-profile sporting events due to adverse weather conditions can impact the company's results."
Last year saw punters place bets on sporting outcomes such as Northern Ireland qualifying for this year's European Championships.
Sporting fans may also have taken a flutter on the Wimbledon Championships, as well as rugby union - including the World Cup - and traditional horse racing fixtures such as the Grand National.
Ladbrokes expanded in Northern Ireland in 2008 when it acquired the Eastwoods chain, while Paddy Power entered the market here when it bought McGranaghans the same year.
In July last year, Ladbrokes plc announced plans to merge with some of it business within the Gala Coral Group, though the merger was not completed until last month.
Earlier this year, William Hill rejected a takeover offer from Rank Group and 888, saying that the duo's proposal for a £3.6bn three-way merger "substantially undervalues" the high street bookmaker.
Willstan, the Northern Ireland-registered company that runs William Hill betting shops here, made pre-tax profits of £1.98m during 2015, a slight fall from £2.09m the year before.
Turnover was down from £11.9m to £11.3m.
In a strategic report with its accounts, filed in September, the company explained that profit movements had been hit by the impact of sporting results and an increase in machine games duty from March 1.
Willstan said results had also been affected by the lack of a tournament on a par with 2014's World Cup, which had buoyed the previous year's performance.
Earlier this year, Irish bookmaker BoyleSports said it wanted to acquire a set of around 300 Ladbrokes and Coral shops which were to be off-loaded by the chains as a condition of their merger imposed by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
But ultimately the CMA gave UK market rivals Betfred and Stan James the go-ahead to acquire the shops.
BoyleSports, which is led by Co Armagh man John Boyle, said it would be communicating its concerns over the decision to the CMA.
Paddy Power also merged with Betfair earlier this year.