Ladbrokes Coffee Keeps Hotel Chain Afloat
By Dave
Hilton Group Plc, whose hotel business is losing revenue amid a slump in travel, is counting on its Ladbrokes bet shops to boost sales and revive earnings.

At the new Ladbrokes outlet just off Trafalgar Square in the heart of London, which has flat plasma screens and laminated floors, tourists sometimes walk in just to buy a coffee.

Rising earnings at Ladbrokes, which operates 2,416 betting shops in the U.K., Ireland and Belgium, probably helped limit the earnings decline in the first half to 25 percent at Hilton, while slumping travel demand pushed hoteliers Millennium & Copthorne Hotels Plc, Host Marriott Corp. and Mandarin Oriental International Ltd. to a loss, analysts predicted in a survey.

`'Ladbrokes is really helping Hilton protect its earnings,'' said Matthias Desmarais, an analyst at CDC Ixis Securities in Paris. ``However, the betting division just won't be strong enough in the first half to offset the decline in the hotels division.'' He has a ``reduce'' recommendation on Hilton.

Ladbrokes plans to increase the number of outlets with Caffe Cino coffee bars to 40 in years ahead from four now.

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