Ladbrokes called 2011 “a year of transition” for their online business after posting disappointing results. Net revenue for the online side of the business dropped 3.5% to £163.4million with the woes down to significant declines in both poker and sportsbook. This manifested it in poker net revenue seeing a 24.5% drop to £14.2m and sportsbook depreciating by 5.2%, finishing the year at £61.7m. There was better news as the firm’s mobile offering posted an increase of 174% in net revenue, ending the year at £15.6m. During the first half of 2012 a new mobile platform will see the light of day as well as bingo, poker and Euro 2012 apps.
Richard Glynn’s spin on things went a little something like this: “We are pleased to have seen acceleration in the growth of customer numbers. Sportsbook and casino sign ups and actives have increased strongly in H2 following the start of increased marketing investment in August. We are continuing to invest in technology to improve our trading capabilities, expand our range of products and improve our delivery to the customer. Mobile is delivering impressive growth with further product expansion and innovation to come throughout the year.”
Net revenue for the group was up 0.4% to £980.3m with operating profit only dropping by just 0.4% to £193.5m. Retail operating profit increased 2.1% to £152.3m and showed it’s still an integral part of this traditional bookmaker’s business.
In terms of what is to come, further expansion into the regulated Chinese market was mentioned and their tie up in Asia looks to be bearing considerable fruit.
Glynn added: “Whilst we remain cautious on the outlook for the economy, we are now starting to see real momentum within the business. We are planning for further growth in UK Retail and in Digital, we expect revenues to grow throughout the year as we build upon the positive growth in customer acquisition achieved to date. We have a number of important milestones in the next few months and are confident of delivering growth in profit during the second half of the year as the benefits from our investments combine.”
Whilst not the most impressive set of results the company have started off 2012 well with online net revenue up 13.1% to February 7 with retail showing a similar increase to 13%.
It was also announced that two non-executive directors would join the board from May 1st 2012. Christine Hodgson, chairperson of Capgemini UK and Richard Moross, founder and chief executive of Moo.com bring extensive digital experience to the firm that will be vital. This was echoed by Lads chairman Peter Erskine, who said: “They bring with them extensive experience in digital platforms and information technology and their complementary range of skills will be of significant benefit as we take the business forward.”
The firm’s third announcement of the day was that board member Pippa Wicks isn’t seeking re-election. Her term will end at the company’s AGM in April, and Erskine commented: “The Board would like to take this opportunity to thank Pippa for her valuable contribution to the Board. We wish her well for the future.”