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Talking Shop: Would a pay boost break Ladbrokes?; The column for the betting industry.

LADBROKES should give Nick Rolls and Fitz Brown a bonus after David Ashforth's excellent article about them and their Cippenham, Berkshire, shop that appeared in yesterday's Racing Post. It was a credit to the entire betting industry.

But Ladbrokes won't have liked the accompanying general piece that mentioned a survey's claim that they were the second poorest payers in the UK, behind Rentokil. Talk about bookies and rat-catchers!

Ladbrokes yesterday pointed out that the survey related to Ladbroke Group and the 71,000 staff it employs, many of whom are part-time and seasonal in the hotel trade. This would have skewed the result.

Clearly, with staff such as Nick and Fitz things aren't hopeless, but there is a worrying issue. Ladbrokes staff who found themselves transferred on to Tote contracts during the deal prompted by the abortive Coral takeover all expressed surprise that they were significantly better off.

And a key reason for the dismay of Coral staff surrounding the deal was a perception that they felt they'd be worse off with Ladbrokes.

All bookmakers have proven particularly adept in recent years in controlling their costs, of which staff wages must be the biggest. You can understand the impact of any increase on a company like Ladbroke Racing with 11,000 employees, but surely now the screw can be loosened as 'hard man' boss Mike Smith is departing!

Given the demands from racing for more from surging bookmaking profits, you can certainly understand the staff view that they should come first before already wealthy racehorse owners.
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Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Cremin, Jim
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Feb 5, 1999
Previous Article:Talking Shop: Bird the legal eagle; The column for the betting industry.
Next Article:Letter: Monopoly.

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