Staff at Ladbrokes and Coral Fight for Jobs as Huge Redundancies Loom

Coral betting shop

30-second summary:

  • Ladbrokes and Coral staff face wide-scale redundancies
  • Around 5,000 staff will lose their jobs
  • 1,000 shops set to close
  • An internal memo suggests staff will be “ranked” to keep their jobs

Gambling on the UK high street is set to change dramatically as GVC Holdings, owner of Ladbrokes and Coral, has suggested it will close as many as 1,000 shops.

In a disturbing move, according to leaked documents seen by the Guardian, staff will be pitted against each other, with roles being “ranked” and redundancies given to those with the lowest score.

Internal memo

In what is being described as a leaked internal memo, GVC makes it clear that it plans to close up to 1,000 of its 3,500 UK shops over the next 18-24 months. This will result in the loss of around 5,000 jobs.

While shop closures were forecast after the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) was slashed to £2 in 2018, the severity of these cuts is somewhat surprising.

The memo details that redundancies will be chosen via a ranking system, in which staff will be grouped by area and then whittled down to the appropriate level of staffing for the shops that will remain open.

For customer service managers, 40% of their score will be determined by their performance on an online test, 20% by a face-to-face interview and 10% on their past disciplinary record. The remaining 30% will be scored on how many retail customers they can convince to open new online accounts with GVC’s gambling brands.

Ultimate aim

Ladbrokes has said that its ultimate aim was to keep as many shops as possible open and job losses to a minimum. Some staff will be made redundant while others will have their work hours cut back to 36 hours per week. No redundancies will happen before May 1, following a 45-day “collective consultation” period.

The bookmaker is telling shop staff to sign up as many gamblers as possible to online accounts if they want to avoid being among the 5,000 employees it plans to make redundant.

MP Carolyn Harris said she was “appalled, although sadly not surprised, that staff are being asked to take advantage of vulnerable people and urge them to sign up for online accounts.”

UK market “in terminal decline”

Last month, GVC released a preview of its 2018 financial performance, which showed a strong online performance and weak retail numbers. GVC CEO Kenny Alexander said at the time that the UK retail market was “in terminal decline.”

This comment was made mainly in response to the government’s decision last November to slash the maximum stakes on FOBTs. The new £2 max stake — down from £100 — takes effect on May 1.

Not the only ones

Ladbrokes and Coral are not the only betting companies looking to cut costs on the high street. Last week, the Arena Racing Company (ARC) warned staff that redundancies were likely and that shops were expected to close. Issues such as a loss of media rights and airtime in shops mean that payments to racing could generate a loss of around £60m.

And only last month, multiple UK media outlets claimed that William Hill was preparing to close up to 900 shops, although the company has yet to confirm any figures.