Hills operating profit down as group implements overhaul

5 August 2016

William Hill registered 1% rise in revenue  but operating profit was down 16% during first half of 2016.

The company last month announced sudden the departure of chief executive James Henderson and although pre-tax profits soared by 28% year-on-year to £100.7 million (€118.8 million/$132.2 million) in the six months to June 30, this was due to the removal a one-off charge on its Australian business last year.

Revenue was up 1% to £814.4 million, but operating profit dropped 16% to £131.1 million.

William Hill said a “strong” and “better-than-expected” Uefa Euro 2016 football tournament generated £36 million of gross win, which mitigated the impact of losses at the Cheltenham festival in March.

Hills also hailed the progress of its online turnaround strategy, while retail delivered 4% growth in net revenue and operating profit.

Philip Bowcock, interim chief executive of William Hill, said: "We remain committed to our strategy of diversifying by expanding digitally and internationally.

“While the first half of 2016 has been challenging, William Hill is a strong business with three of our four core divisions performing well. Our retail business is robust, the US operation continues to grow rapidly and the core metrics in Australia are moving in the right direction.

“We have taken considerable steps forward in executing on online's improvements but there is still a way to go. The refocused team has delivered substantial upgrades to the mobile sportsbook customer experience, which is now back to competitive levels.”

There was little reference to last week’s takeover approach from 888 and Rank Group, other than to state the company is not convinced that a takeover would enhance its "strategic positioning or deliver superior value".

Bowcock said the company is trading in line with previous guidance of between £260 million and £280 million of operating profit for the full year.

Bowcock added: "Looking ahead, our immediate priorities are to continue the recovery in online, to leverage our technology improvements across the business and to advance a focused approach to international growth.

“Trading is in line with our full-year expectations and we have a strong team in place to deliver on the opportunities before us and to improve the business for the long term.

“In addition, we see opportunities to benefit from increased efficiencies in certain areas of the business.”

Meanwhile, Hills has obtained the exclusive right in the corporate bookmaker category to live stream all NSW thoroughbred racing vision.

Following a tender process that was believed to include rivals such as Ladbrokes and Crownbet, Hills now holds the right to stream vision of all Racing in NSW, exclusive wagering streaming rights for Australian Open tennis and is also set to stream Victorian Racing on the William Hill website and apps.

“Williamhill.com.au is now the home of racing for online betting and viewing. Australian punters are showing an increased appetite to have a betting and viewing experience in the one destination and William Hill is now able to deliver this exclusively for key racing and tennis events to the Australian betting public,” a William Hill spokesperson said.

Related article: William Hill chief executive Henderson stands down