Ladbrokes owner GVC's CEO to retire amid collapse in gaming revenue

Edmund Heaphy
·Finance and news reporter
·2 min read
People walk past a Ladbrokes betting shop in London, Wednesday June 22, 2016. Thursday’s referendum on whether to leave the European Union, which could have lasting consequences for the country and Europe, is due to break the record as the most bet-upon political event in Britain’s history. (AP Photo/Leonora Beck)
A Ladbrokes betting shop in London. UK retail revenue has collapsed during the coronavirus crisis. (AP Photo/Leonora Beck)

Ladbrokes owner GVC (GVC.L) said on Thursday that veteran chief executive Kenneth Alexander will retire this week as part of long-term succession arrangements, the same day the company reported a coronavirus-related collapse in gaming revenue.

GVC chief operating officer Shay Segev will take over from Alexander, who has been in the top job since 2007, shepherding it from a small betting firm into a global giant listed on London’s FTSE 100 index (^FTSE).

Under his watch, GVC acquired Sportingbet and the Ladbrokes Coral Group, as well as several gaming brands such as Partypoker and Cashcade.

His departure comes at a difficult moment for the company, which on Thursday said gaming revenue had plummeted by 22% in its most recent quarter.

The company said it was “heavily impacted” by store closures during sweeping coronavirus lockdowns across Europe, with retail revenue falling by 86% in the UK alone in the three months to the end of June.

In a trading update, GVC pointed to 22% growth in online net gaming revenue in the quarter, with gains in all of its major territories significantly offsetting the fall-off in its retail business.

GVC said that the “early response” from customers as stores reopened had been “encouraging,” and said that both Ladbrokes and Coral were well placed to gain market share.

“Given the extraordinary circumstances in which the group is currently operating, delivering double-digit online net gaming revenue growth in all of our major territories is a very strong performance,” said Alexander.

Commenting on his impending departure, Alexander said that the company would be in “good hands.”

“I have spent the last four months working from home and reflecting on my future plans, and this feels like the right moment,” he said.

“Whilst it is never easy to hand the baton on, it has been very clear for a number of years now that Shay is the right person to succeed me.”

Noting that he had “enjoyed every minute” of his time with GVC, Alexander said he now wanted to give some time to his family.

Segev, 44, has been chief operating officer since 2016, and previously held the same role at gaming and sports betting software firm Playtech (PTEC.L).

“The board has kept succession plans under constant review, and has been extremely impressed by Shay's contribution and leadership,” said chairman Barry Gibson.