Page last updated at 13:25 GMT, Thursday, 18 February 2010

Ladbrokes profits hit by recession

Ladbrokes sign
Ladbrokes said spending on betting fell in the recession

UK betting firm Ladbrokes has blamed troubles in the economy for a 28% fall in profits for 2009.

The company said it made £191.3m ($301.5m) last year, down from the £265.6m it made in 2008.

UK sales fell by 28%, the company said, as punters cut back on spending in the recession.

But the company said the football World Cup this summer was an opportunity to increase profits and attract new customers.

Ladbrokes also hopes to boost business through the launch of a new spread betting service, allowing punters to bet on the future direction of stock markets, shares and currencies.

"2009 was a challenging year for Ladbrokes," said the company's chairman, Peter Erskine.

"We were impacted by the deteriorating economic environment... however, Ladbrokes continues to be a profitable and cash generative business."

He added that Ladbrokes would focus on growing its online business, as well as "taking decisive cost actions".

The company has already imposed a pay freeze across the group until 2011 in an effort to reduce its costs.

In November last year it announced plans to close its Aintree call centre with the loss of up to 263 jobs.

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