William Hill aims for digital turnaround following ‘extremely challenging’ H1 2016

Philip Bowcock

A better than expected Euro 2016, which generated £36 million gross-win has helped William Hill Plc steady its 2016 financial performance, following its worst ever Cheltenham Festival results.

Presenting its H1 2016 results (period ending 30 June), William Hill governance stated that the company remains on track to hit its revised full-year guidance of £260-280 million.

The FTSE-listed operator would close a tough H1 period, reporting group revenues of £814 million (1% up on H1 2015: £808 million).

However, higher taxes combined with a decline in its digital wagering would see the operator record a 16% decline in operating profits to £131 million (H1 2015: £155 million).

William Hill H1 2016 Performance Overview 

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In its H1 overview, William Hill governance would describe the period as ‘extremely challenging’, as the operator detailed that it online divisions continues to be affected by ‘player time-outs / automatic self-exclusions’.Furthermore, the operator would detail that digital players acquired in 2015 had as yet failed to deliver on expected revenues.  

Outlining its 2016 recovery, William Hill governance stated that the company would now move to focus on ‘immediate areas of strategic focus’ relating to its business. Governance would point to four areas of concern; William Hill’s digital turnaround, improving its technology roadmap, increased corporate efficiencies and expanding international growth.

Concerning its potential takeover by a Rank Group and 888 Holdings consortium, William Hill governance continued to label the approach as ‘highly preliminary’, choosing not to detail any ongoing negotiations and further stating that the approach would have no significant impact on its 2016 performance.

Philip Bowcock, Interim Chief Executive Officer of William Hill, commented on H1 2016 Performance:

“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. Our recent investment in NYX / OpenBet and acquisition of Grand Parade further accelerate our ability to innovate at speed and enhance the customer experience moving forward.

“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.”

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