William Hill warns online performance could hit profits

23 March 2016

William Hill has said that a weaker-than-expected performance by its online business during the year-to-date, up to March 20, could have an impact on its full-year profit.

The operator cited two factors as the reasons behind the performance during the period – an acceleration in the number of time-outs and automatic self-exclusions in recent weeks, as well as lower gross win margins for online.

Customers opting out of gambling have impacted the level of actives across the firm’s online arm, while gross win margins are 1.9 percentage points below expectations at 6.2%, due to European football results and the worst results for William Hill at the Cheltenham Festival UK horse racing event in recent history.

William Hill did note that the rest of the group continues to trade well and is in line with overall expectations, with the company forecast to post operating profit of between £260 million (€329.1 million/$368.3 million) and £280 million for the full year.

The firm also confirmed that it is in advanced discussions with a partner, which would allow it to invest in OpenBet, but warned that the discussion may or may not lead to a deal.

In addition, William Hill said that the appointment of Crispin Nieboer as interim managing director in January of this year has enabled it to identify a number of strategic priorities that will help improve the business.

These include refocusing the business on maximising UK customer yields, improving performance in non-core markets and assessing opportunities for cost efficiencies.

James Henderson, chief executive of William Hill, said: “Today's statement reflects the combined effect of our assessment of the impact of recent regulatory changes and unfavourable sporting results including the worst results at Cheltenham in our recent history.

“We are also experiencing softer UK growth as a consequence of acquiring lower value customers.

“While the rest of the group is performing in line with our expectations, we continue to focus on improving online's performance so that we can, once again, outperform the market.”

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