Betting firm Ladbrokes has announced the successor to outgoing chief executive Richard Glynn, appointing managing director for its digital business Jim Mullen to lead the business - a rare example of an executive with an IT background taking the reigns at a major UK firm.
The announcement comes as Ladbrokes attempts to transform its business to capitalise on growth in online and mobile gambling channels. CEO Glynn had come under scrutiny from investors earlier in the year as the company prepared to announce a downturn in profits, following investments in back office IT systems to support its online and mobile betting strategy.
Mullen will take over from Glynn from 1 April, also becoming a director at the company with a salary of £500,000. Glynn will step down from his role and leave the board on 31 March.
Mullen joined the company in 2013 from betting rival William Hill, where he held the title of COO of online operations. He had previously been employed as director of digital strategy at News International, now News UK.
At Ladbrokes, Mullen has led the transformation of its digital business, with the creation of new products and services such as the launch of its mobile sportsbook, after establishing a partnership with the Chelsea Apps Factory.
He also helped strengthen the relationship with online gaming partner, Playtech, with which it has signed a five-year deal to distribute it services, the company said.
“The board is confident that Jim can use the leadership qualities he has displayed in the digital team to take forward the wider Ladbrokes’ business,” said Ladbrokes chairman, Peter Erskine.
“Ladbrokes has gone through extensive change and Jim’s task will be to build on the strong foundations laid and make us compete even more effectively, deliver a robust growing business and build scale.
“He faced tough competition from strong external candidates but emerged as the unanimous choice.”
The appointment of Mullen – who studied computer science related subjects at Glasgow Caledonian University and University of Westminster – to CEO is a significant, but relatively rare, example of a senior technical or digital executive being handed the top job at a UK company.
A notable example Tesco’s former chief executive, Phillip Clarke, was promoted from his CIO role in 2010, while another Ladbrokes employee - former IT director, Richard Ames - became boss of international models and collectibles group, Hornby, last year.
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