Business World

Thursday 5 December 2019

William Hill back 'on track' after 700 store cuts

CEO Ulrik Bengtsson
CEO Ulrik Bengtsson

Henry Saker-Clark

William Hill has said it remains "on track" to hit forecasts after closing 700 of its betting shops following the UK government's crackdown on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).

The gambling giant closed the stores, which it said would affect 4,500 jobs, during the past 17 weeks, as it sought to mitigate the impact of the reduction of the FOBT minimum stake to £2 (€2.34) from £100. William Hill said the legislative change heavily affected its UK retail business, driving like-for-like sales in the division down by 16pc since the previous half-year.

Investors in the gambling sector have become particularly sensitive to regulatory change in recent months, with shares in William Hill slipping earlier in November after a group of MPs called for stricter legislation for online gambling.

Overall revenues across the firm increased by 1pc over the period, as it was buoyed by growth online and in the US market. UK online revenues increased by 4pc, while total online revenues jumped by 19pc from July 3 to the end of October.

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Meanwhile, the company reported a 60pc revenue increase in the US, driven by its rapid expansion in the country, after states were permitted to enact sports betting laws in 2018.

The turbulent period for William Hill also saw its previous CEO Philip Bowcock stand down in September, to be replaced by Ulrik Bengtsson, who was previously the company's chief digital officer.

PA Media

Irish Independent

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