Paddy Power owner ‘committed’ to Irish retail network, says CFO

Jonathan Hill, CFO of Flutter Entertainment, owner of Paddy Power, said the group remained committed to its Irish retail network despite low footfall, with Ireland lagging behind other countries in easing restrictions in the event of a pandemic.

Releasing third quarter results yesterday, Flutter Entertainment said its Irish retail network revenues were 27% lower year-on-year in the three months ending in late October.

In the UK, retail revenues grew 9% on the same basis in the third quarter.

There are over 250 Paddy Power outlets in Ireland and over 350 in the UK.

Mr Hill said Flutter saw a “significant divergence” in retail performance in the UK and Ireland.

He added that the UK building stock has also been bolstered by the presence of fixed odds betting terminals in its stores.

“It feels like it has changed dramatically in terms of customer behavior,” Hill said of the UK economy at large. “Having been to both Ireland and the UK I definitely notice a significant difference. And I think that’s what we see in Irish retail stores – it’s lower footfall per minute.

He said he expects Paddy Power’s Irish retail business to operate as expected once the economic environment normalizes.

“We are fully committed to the Irish business area,” he said. “Having seen what happened in the UK, we just think Ireland is just going to follow a little later in terms of customer behavior.”

Flutters shares fell nearly 8% early in trading as it lowered its forecast for the year, due to a string of worse-than-expected results in the first three weeks of October, which reduced group profit before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of 60 million pounds sterling (70.5 million euros).

It also expects a hit of £ 10million in the fourth quarter as it suspends operations in the Netherlands after the government introduced a new rule which means gaming operators must apply for new licenses in order to provide online services there.

Flutter now expects to generate EBITDA of between £ 1.24bn to £ 1.28bn for the full year, compared to £ 1.27bn to £ 1.37bn he had predicted in August.

Its US business continued to perform well in the third quarter, he noted.

Flutter reported third quarter revenue of £ 1.4 billion, up 12% at constant exchange rates.

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