Belfast Telegraph

Ladbrokes suffers digital setback

Betting shop chain Ladbrokes has continued its run of poor form after warning today that digital profits will be a long way short of hopes.

The group, which has around 2,700 shops, said it was disappointed its online figures were "still not where we anticipated they would be."

Shares dropped 10% following the latest downbeat update from the chain, which recently posted a 50% drop in half-year profits.

It offered some encouragement for investors by reporting improved trading in its shop estate, with a recovery in footfall and a significant improvement in the amounts staked over the counter.

Ladbrokes recently announced a tie-up with gaming software firm Playtech in an effort to address its underperformance in digital gaming.

But the company admitted there was still a lack of competitiveness in its sportsbook, while there has been a greater disruptive impact from the work needed to grow digital for the long-term.

It believes that digital profits will be in the range of £10 million to £14 million, compared with the City's forecast of around £27.5 million.

Chief executive Richard Glynn said: "We remain confident that the strong foundations we are putting in place will drive performance during 2014 and beyond."

Despite the better trading in its retail estate, Ladbrokes said betting shop results will be impacted by ongoing pressure on margins.

Panmure Gordon stockbrokers said it would downgrade its profits forecast for 2013 by at least £19 million to £121 million.

While the company has committed to retaining its dividend at the current level in this year and next, Panmure analyst Karl Burns said senior management were likely to come under "significant pressure" given the continued disappointment in digital trading.