The History of Ladbrokes
It could be forgiven to think that the name Ladbrokes is only synonymous with the gambling industry. However, if one looks deeper into the company portfolio, they will find that in addition to being recognised as the world's leading online bookmaker, they also have the likes of Vernons football pools and Hilton Hotels International among their list of companies.
The Origins of the Ladbrokes Brand
Originally formed as a bookmaking operation in 1886, betting on horses that were trained by one of the founding partners of the company, it was soon realised that taking bets rather than making bets would be a far more lucrative market to be involved in.
Gambling was certainly the company's main business which they began first through the 'gentleman’s clubs' of London and later through a telephone office. This office marked the first of many Ladbrokes betting shops which were actually illegal until 1961.
An aggressive expansion campaign between 1964 and 1967 saw the group buy up properties, extending and refurbishing them to open as licensed betting offices.
As a result, group profits soared as betting turnover increased markedly, allowing the company to float on the stock exchange for almost £1 million. In turn, the Ladbrokes shop estate ballooned from around 400 betting shop locations to over 1,000 up until 1971.
Not content with their lot, the company then diversified into several other markets, including the hotel market, with the launch of their Ladbrokes chain of hotels. In 1999 the group bought over the 'Stakis' chain of hotels, owned by the late Cypriot owner, Sir Reo Stakis.
Other ventures that the Ladbrokes group were involved in were the acquisition of DIY chain 'Texas Homecare' who they later sold to the Sainsburys group, who then merged the brand with their own Homebase brand. Ladbrokes are also responsible for the football pools company Vernons, who they still own today.
Soon after the acquisision of Stakis, the Ladbrokes Group renamed and rebranded their entire hotel stock as Hilton Hotels Int., making them one of the largest hotel operators in the world.
Subsequently the company renamed themselves as the Hilton Group Plc., in order to reflect the increased size of the hotel business within the group, and entered a joint marketing arrangement with US based Hilton Hotels Corp, which operates Hilton Hotels in the US.
In 2005 Hilton Group Plc announced its intention to sell off their UK hotels to the Hilton Hotels Corporation in the US and in February 2006, the sale was approved by shareholders and subsequently finalised for £3.3 billion, with the Hilton Group readopting their original Ladbrokes name and retaining their gambling business.