Jobs threat over Ladbrokes' losses
Hundreds of jobs are on the line at the Irish division of b etting giant Ladbrokes after it suffered losses of five million euro last year.
The company has sought court protection to try to turn around its loss-making venture and secured the appointment of an interim examiner after several years of declining profits.
Ladbrokes said lay-offs are expected at all levels of its operation in the Republic, where it has 840 employees and 196 betting shops.
Jim Mullen, chief executive, said the Irish division was unsustainable in its current shape.
"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," he said.
"This step has been taken in the best long-term interests of Ladbrokes Ireland, its employees, customers, partners and shareholders.
"In entering the process, our aim is to build a sustainable and competitive business based in Ireland, run from Ireland, investing in Ireland and supporting the Irish economy and sporting industry while delivering for shareholders."
Ladbrokes said its efforts to create a sustainable business were being held back by "real estate legacy issues".
Under Irish law the examinership process, confirmed in the High Court, will guarantee business as usual while a schedule is put in place with creditors over the next 100 days.
Ladbrokes said the number of job cuts will depend on the outcome of the estate restructuring and that its digital and telephone businesses are not affected by the examinership.
Workers at betting offices around Ireland were being briefed on the news.
Jackie Murphy, retail director of the Irish operation, said: "We are taking this action to safeguard our business and position it for future growth. The examinership relates solely to our retail operations and has no impact on Ladbrokes telephone and digital services.
"We are fully committed to work with all our staff through this difficult time and would hope that the vast majority of any necessary redundancies will be voluntary.
"It will be business as usual with shops taking and paying bets as normal while this process is ongoing."