Belfast Telegraph

Struggling Ladbrokes hoping to collect on World Cup

Beleaguered Ladbrokes boss Richard Glynn has insisted he had the backing of major investors despite more profit pain as he races to revive the business in time for the World Cup.

The chief executive, under pressure after a succession of profit warnings, said he was "fully confident" that he would be in the job in 2017, when the bookmaker's deal with Israeli software firm Playtech – to improve its online business – expires.

Refusing to comment on reports he had been given a six-month deadline to save his job, he said: "When I've spoken to shareholders they realise the shape of the business and where the growth is coming from. I am fully confident I will be speaking to you at the end of the Playtech deal in 2017."

Glynn's comments came as the shares, down almost 20% this year, lost another 1%, or 2.25p, to 148.75p.

Full-year operating profits were off a third to £138.3m as profits from its UK retail arm, its largest division, sank 26% and digital profits collapsed 74%. Glynn promised to hold the dividend at 8.9p this year.

Ladbrokes said first-half profits would be below last year as it completes the rollout of new gaming machines across shops and makes the transition to Playtech software.

The firm, along with rival bookmakers, has endured a nightmare start to the year as punters cleaned up on favourable football and horse racing results, which have cost it £11m.

The World Cup will involve increased marketing outlay as well as the looming point-of-consumption tax in December.

This means bookies who moved online businesses to low-tax destinations will now pay tax on where bets are placed, knocking £2m off Ladbrokes' digital profits this year.

Belfast Telegraph