Business World

Monday 5 December 2016

William Hill sees favourable trading

Holly Williams

Published 21/04/2011 | 11:21

Bookmaker William Hill today hailed "excellent" trading after its retail arm performed well in the face of consumer uncertainty.

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The group, which employs 16,000 people and has 2,350 betting offices, said retail underlying earnings rose 24pc on net revenues 8pc higher thanks to an increase in over-the-counter betting and from gaming machines.

It continues to see strong demand for its online gambling sites, with revenues in the business up 26pc and underlying earnings 28pc ahead on a year earlier.

Total group earnings lifted 21pc - a result that came despite a poor Cheltenham Festival for bookies last month. Ladbrokes said last week it saw a £10.7m (€12.1m) drop in net revenues from the festival as more favourites came in.

Ralph Topping, chief executive of William Hill, said: "We have seen excellent growth across our business in the first quarter, enabling us to remain confident in our expectations for the full year.

"It is particularly pleasing that, alongside a continuing strong performance from William Hill Online, we have seen growth in both net revenue and operating profit in retail."

Since the first quarter, William Hill said it enjoyed a good Grand National after the favourite failed to win.

Shares opened more than 6pc higher today.

While it was not the group's best Cheltenham, William Hill said it had a number of success over the festival.

It banked over £2m (€2.26m) in profits from two races in one hour.

Sizing Europe's victory over leading contenders Big Zeb and Master Minded in the Champion Chase saw the group rake in more than £1m on that race alone.

William Hill cautioned the current economic climate could impact revenues if lower consumer spending sees a drop in discretionary spend, such as gambling.

But its first quarter figures to March 29 show a resilient performance so far, with over-the-counter amounts wagered up 4pc and still up 1pc even with poor weather factors from the year before stripped out.

The retail performance was helped by a gross win margin at the top end of its expectations due to a strong result in the final five weeks of the quarter.

Shares in the group rose 6pc after the update.

It comes after William Hill recently posted a 7pc rise in annual operating profits to £276.8m (€313m) in the year to December 28 after revenues also lifted 7pc.

The group also last week announced a move into the US gaming market after agreeing to buy two American sports betting businesses for around $39m (€26.6m).

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