Ladbrokes says strong results due to marketing investment and sporting flukes

As part of its FA deal, Ladbrokes will have in-stadium betting rights at Wembley.
As part of its FA deal, Ladbrokes will have in-stadium betting rights at Wembley.

Ladbrokes chief executive Jim Mullen thanked the "sporting gods" for conditions that allowed the bookmaker to up its revenues by 13.1% to £661.8m in the first half of 2016 - but also said the company's investment in marketing had paid off.

Mullen said that a string of upsets throughout the year, exemplified by Leicester City’s Premier League triumph and England’s ignominious exit from Euro 2016 at the hands of Iceland, meant that "week in week out customers’ accumulators and coupons were victims of surprise results."

But he said that the strategy of bolstering the marketing presence of the Ladbrokes brand, including becoming the official betting partner of the FA, had also allowed it to attract more recreational customers, increasing the sums being stakes, especially on football.

The company’s income boost was thanks in large part to soaring digital revenues, which were up 40.9% to £158.1m, accounting for 63% of all revenue growth. This was thanks to an improved brand presence, product quality and stability in its online offering, said Mullen.

"In, we have increased our marketing spend and the improvements to our products in H1 have been driven by a customer-focus rather than a technology-focus," he added.

In June, Ladbrokes and Coral agreed to the demand of the Competition and Markets Authority that they sell between 350 and 400 shops in order to seal their £3.3bn merger, which has been in the works for more than a year.

Without the disposals, the merged company would have more than 4,000 betting shops – compared to only 2,360 for the next largest chain, William Hill.

Mullen added: "We will continue to compete hard on pricing, product and customer services and maintain a relentless focus on meeting and exceeding customer expectations.

"With the merger on the horizon we recognise there is a lot of hard work still to come, but this is an exciting time for Ladbrokes and we approach the opportunities ahead with a strong sense of confidence."

Since the Ladbrokes-Coral process began, Paddy Paddy and Betfair also came together in a £5bn merger that created one of the world’s largest online betting companies. The deal led to Paddy Power's chief marketing officer, Gav Thompson, leaving the company, being replaced by his counterpart at Betfair, Jonathan Devitt.

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