The gambling brand has announced it will keep furlough funds while profts from online betting surge.
UK.- Despite making £114m in profits, Ladbrokes’ owner, Entain, claimed up to £30m from taxpayer in furlough payments, according to information published by The Guardian.
The company’s decision to keep the furlough payments from the government contrast with the announcement of its rival, bookmaker William Hill, which has paid back the taxpayer support, citing growth in online revenue among the reasons why it did not need the money.
A number of other large companies that have performed well financially during the pandemic, including as Ikea and Serco, have also returned furlough support.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) disclosures analysed by the Guardian show that Entain claimed between £12.5m and £30m in December and January, to pay 14,000 staff who were furloughed at about 3,000 of its high street shops.
Betting shops were forced to close from before Christmas until today in the whole UK due to measures imposed by the government to contain the spread of Covid-19.
In its full-year accounts, published last month, the company showed that the financial impact of betting shop closures was offset by a £500m increase in online revenue during 2020.
According to The Guardian, in January 2021, when Entain received between £10m and £25m of taxpayers’ funds to pay staff, the company hired a consultancy service from CT Group, which helped Entain set up a consumer group called Players Panel, which it said represented the voices of ordinary gamblers.
In a statement, Entain said: “The furlough scheme has been a sensible and highly welcome policy intervention that helped us, as one of the country’s largest retailers, to maintain the livelihoods of more than 14,000 retail colleagues on full pay.
“Whilst the virus is still with us and the outlook, although improving, is still far from certain, the board will continue to keep the situation under review.”