LADBROKES has reported a £51.4 million loss for the first half of the year, just weeks after announcing a £2.3 billion merger with rival Coral.
The bookmaker tumbled into the red after taking a £78.9m hit, largely from a writedown in the value of its shops across the UK and Ireland and costs linked to branch closures.
Chief executive Jim Mullen said the group’s ambition to “create a better business” was having an impact on its earnings but “removes the sort-term thinking that had come to dominate our actions”.
He added: “The proposed merger with the Coral Group represents an exciting opportunity for the business but, with completion some way away, the focus for me and my team must be on the here and now of delivering on our organic plan, building a better Ladbrokes.”
The firm’s merger with Coral is expected to see it overtake William Hill as the biggest bookmaker in Britain, although it is expected to have to dispose of some stores to satisfy any concerns about the deal from competition regulators.
Ladbrokes, which plans to close about 60 stores this year, warned last month that its three-year programme aimed at boosting revenues and growing its online business would have an impact on dividends, and yesterday it said shareholders will receive an interim payout of 1p on 12 November, down from 4.3p a year ago.