Ladbrokes has fired product director Richard Ames ahead of unveiling its worst set of online results in nearly a decade on Thursday.
The UK’s second largest bookmaker had already issued a warning to investors late last month that it expected first-half profit from digital to be “around half” of the £31m recorded a year earlier. The company said the cost of increased investment in technology and marketing and the cost of entering regulated markets had been exacerbated by a weak sportsbook margin and delays in the delivery of key technology projects.
However, further costly delays in the delivery of its technology platform are understood to have eaten even further into the £15m of profits expected from its online division, according to the Telegraph this morning, sparking the departure of Ames.
Ladbrokes subsequently issued a statement in “response to press speculation”, confirming that “Richard Ames, head of product (responsible for trading and IT), and a director of the company, has ceased to perform his executive duties with immediate effect.” The company said it would provdie additional information on any management changes on Thursday at the results announcement.
The bookmaker pledged early last year to spend £50m over two years on upgrading its online technology, aimed at revitalising the online business and bridging the gap to high street rivals William Hill and Paddy Power. On Friday, bitter rival Hill’s, that instead opted to operate its online arm under a joint venture with software provider Playtech, unveiled a 23% rise in first-half online operating profit to £68.9m, a figure set to dwarf the less-than-£15m of profits from its digital Ladbrokes is expected to unveil on Thursday.
Ladbrokes also made approaches for pure online businesses 888 and Sportingbet last year, but failed to agree on price for the former and walked away from the latter due to regulatory worries over the latter’s Turkish-language business, Superbahis.
Ladbrokes will publish its full half-year results this Thursday 2 August.