Friday 23 March 2018

William Hill CEO Henderson leaves after failing to deliver in online market

William Hill
William Hill

William Hill has fired chief executive James Henderson after only two years in the role because the bookmaker's board said he was failing to deliver the required level of growth in online and international gambling.

William Hill said in a brief statement on Thursday that Henderson had left with immediate effect, without giving any details. Speaking to Reuters, Chairman Gareth Davis did not dispute that the CEO had been fired.

He said Henderson had made a significant contribution to William Hill during a career spanning 30 years.

"However, there remain significant challenges and in the recent past online has not performed in line with our high expectations as a company at the forefront of the market," he told Reuters on Thursday.

"The board has therefore taken the decision to look for new leadership for the business."

Henderson was promoted from the role of operations director two years ago when Ralph Topping retired. Topping had helped to make the company Britain's largest bookmaker by adding online and international operations to its high street betting shops.

The industry faces higher taxes and tighter regulation and a series of mergers has intensified the competition.

Shares in William Hill, which fell to a four-year low of 235.5 pence on June 24, the day after Britain voted to leave the European union, were trading up 3.3 percent at 284 pence early on Thursday.

Davis said the board believed the strategy of diversifying the business by increasing the share of international and digital revenues remained valid, but Henderson had failed in its execution.

"At a time of increasing consolidation and competition as well as regulatory impacts in our core market, it is key that the delivery of this strategy is accelerated and the board believe this is best led by a new CEO," he said.

Chief Financial Officer Philip Bowcock had been appointed interim chief executive while a replacement is sought.

William Hill said its trading remained in line with the previous guidance, with an expectation to produce 260 million - 280 million pounds of operating profit in 2016.


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