Ladbrokes posts £36m loss for Northern Ireland business
The Northern Ireland business of bookmakers Ladbrokes has posted losses of almost £36m, a year after it enjoyed strong profit.
Northwest Bookmakers, which is a subsidiary of parent company Ladbrokes plc, saw its profits slump in the year to December 2014.
A spokesman for Ladbrokes said the sizeable flip was largely the "result of an accounting treatment on our retail estate, not an indicator on problems in the performance of our Northern Ireland business".
The business says it's trading well, when the so-called impairments on its shops and property are stripped out.
In the latest accounts there is an impairment charge of £44m for the year.
Ladbrokes operates more than 30 shops right across Northern Ireland, with around a dozen each in Londonderry and Belfast.
Northwest Bookmakers came in at number 28 in the Belfast Telegraph's Top 100 Companies list for 2015. It was buoyed by strong pre-tax profits of £11.65m during 2013.
The company, which trades as Ladbrokes, is the largest bookmaker in Northern Ireland and holds around a quarter of all shop licences across the region.
In its latest accounts, the business says that "with the exception of the post balance sheet event" which is included in the company notes "there have been no significant events since the year end".
The firm's staff numbers fell during the course of 2014, dropping from 403 a year earlier, to 386.
It has also closed dozens of its shops across the UK over the past year.
Ladbrokes is currently in the process of a mega-merger with rival Gala Coral, which could see a deal valued at £2.3bn.
The overall listed business saw its earnings plunge by 57% during the third quarter of 2015, after being hit by higher gaming taxes and the costs of a major marketing push.
It said UK revenues fell 0.7% in the three months to the end of September compared with a year earlier, when it was boosted by the football World Cup.
Speaking about Ladbrokes' third quarter results, chief executive Jim Mullen, said: "These numbers reflect the first 68 days of activity since we announced our organic plan to aggressively invest and grow our recreational and multi-channel customer base, particularly across UK retail, Ladbrokes.com and Ladbrokes Australia. It is early in our journey, but today's results reflect positive initial progress."
Ladbrokes' planned merger will form a gambling firm with more than 4,000 shops, overtaking William Hill.
It's the latest in a wave of consolidation in the sector, after Paddy Power and Betfair also joined forces.