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The BBC's Greg Wood
"Littlewoods has brought fortune and a little glamour into ordinary lives for 75 years"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 27 June, 2000, 13:15 GMT 14:15 UK
Littlewoods sells off pools
Littlewoods winners celebrate
Giant lottery wins have stolen pools players' dreams
Retail group Littlewoods is to sell its pools business, leaving the company free to concentrate on its stores and home shopping businesses.

It is selling its leisure division to Rodime, a technology licensing company based in Edinburgh, for 161m.

The leisure division includes its well known Littlewoods football pools which has been ravaged by the army of so-called 'soft gamblers' deciding to have their weekly 1 flutter on the national lottery instead.

Pools worker
Pools staff face uncertain future
The company, which also announced a drop in profits, says it plans to use the cash to reduce debt and invest in its retail operations.

Littlewoods has been owners of the pools for 75 years.

It accounts for 82% of the UK pools market.

So far, Rodime says that all jobs are safe and that the pools will continue, even better than before.

Brand name benefits

Rodime chief operating officer Colin McGill said the company planned to use its knowledge of new technology to expand the Littlewoods pools and gaming business into new markets.

"Littlewoods has a fantastic brand name, with a strong range of products in the traditional marketplace," he added.

The deal is backed by Trevor Hemming, the retail entrepreneur who owns Blackpool Tower.

National Lottery terminal
The lottery has hit pools takings
The leisure business, which also included online bookmaking business Bet247.co.uk, accounted for 15% of Littlewoods' turnover.

Littlewoods, which is privately owned by the Liverpool-based Moores family, saw its pre-tax profits drop to 68.1m, down from 166.6m in the previous year.

Its retail trading profits were down to 81.3m from 105m.

Littlewoods chief executive Barry Gibson said:"There's no doubt we got our pricing wrong for the spring and summer catalogue. We were too expensive and the discounters have been taking away market share."

In the autumn catalogue - released at the weekend - the group has cut prices by about 10% to compete with rivals such as Primark and Matalan.

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See also:

28 Sep 99 | The Company File
It can't be Littlewoods
29 Jun 99 | The Company File
Catalogue cafes for Littlewoods
06 Apr 00 | Business
Odds favour offshore betting
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