Bookies chain Ladbrokes Ireland has been placed in examinership after an application to the High Court.

The examinership process offers a business court protection to help a company survive when it is experiencing financial difficulties.

Mr Justice McGovern has confirmed Court protection for Ladbrokes Ireland and has appointed Ken Fennell of Deloitte as Interim Examiner.

Ladbrokes has 196 shops in the Republic of Ireland and it employs 840 people here.

It said today's decision follows several years of declining profits, which resulted in a loss after interest and tax of over €5m in the last financial year.

The company cautioned that the restructuring is likely to lead to redundancies at all levels of its business here.

SIPTU has said it is seeking an urgent meeting with the company's management to discuss what impact the move will have on union members.

In a statement, Ladbrokes Ireland said it wants to restructure its Irish business, which includes Ladbroke (Ireland) Limited, Ladbroke Leisure (Ireland) Limited and Dara Properties Limited, in order "to create a sustainable competitive business which is currently being held back by real estate legacy issues".

The company said that during the examinership process it is business as usual for all Ladbrokes Ireland operations. It said its customers will not be affected, shops will remain open and existing contracts and terms and conditions will continue to be honoured.  

"While regrettable, the action taken today by the directors of the Irish companies is absolutely necessary to safeguard the Irish business which in its current state is not sustainable and cannot be supported by the Ladbrokes Board without radical change, having lost its competitive edge," commented Jim Mullen, CEO of British-based Ladbrokes.

He said the move had been taken in the best long term interests of Ladbrokes Ireland, its employees, customers, partners and shareholders. 

"In entering the process, our aim is to build a sustainable and competitive business based in Ireland, run from Ireland, investing in Ireland and supporting the Irish economy and sporting industry while delivering for shareholders," he added.