James Henderson: ‘I’m a great believer in multichannel activity’

The William Hill website is hosting an interview with new CEO James Henderson. Here is a transcript of what he had to say.

You’ve been introduced today as William Hill’s CEO designate. What are your thoughts about taking over the top job?

I’m absolutely delighted to be able to take over the job at William Hill, especially in its 80th anniversary. We’ve got a great team that Ralph’s put together, so I’m really confident that the future is very bright for William Hill over the next few years.

So what can we expect? Tell us a little bit more about yourself and about your leadership style.

I’ve been with William Hill for nigh on 30 years, now. I started off as a training manager in Shepherd’s Bush, and I took pretty much every role within retail, but more recently, I’ve been involved in the US business, both when we acquired it and as part of the integration. I spent two or three years over in the online business as the operational lead, so it really got me to understand the online business, and just recently, I’ve also been involved in the Australian business, since we acquired the Tom Waterhouse, the SportingBet brand and the CentreBet brand.

So what do you believe are the strengths of the business?

I think there area number of strengths that William Hill have. Scale – we are a market leader in the UK. We’re a market leader in online. We’ve  got international diversification in America, Australia, Spain, Italy, so scale is very strong. Brand, very, very strong brand, and that certainly resonates around the world, but as important is the people that we have working within our businesses, within each of the channels. We’re ahead of the innovation curve that we’ve helped use to grow our business over the last two or three years.

But William Hill is also facing a variety of challenges, isn’t it?

It is. There’s point of consumption. There’s the offshore levy. There’s the race field fees in Australia, but we’re working really hard as a team to be able to mitigate the impact that is. There will be a short-term hit, as everybody would expect, but going forward, we’ll be able to have mitigated that and have sustainable profits in years to come.

What about industry issues?

There are industry issues, but we’re a highly regulated business. We’re a very responsible business. We’re compliant in every area, but we are working with the government on a number of initiatives to be able to improve in that area, too.

What are your immediate priorities going to be?

My immediate priorities are to sit down with the team and discuss what the future looks like for William Hill, both from an organic point of view, building on the fantastic foundations we’ve got, but also looking at what opportunities might present themselves over the next two or three years, and making sure we’re in the right place to be able to take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself.

 You talk about the future of William Hill. What should we expect? What will drive the business forward?

There are a number of things that will drive the business forward. I’m a great believer in multichannel activity. I don’t think anybody’s got it right, and we’ve already started on that road, but I absolutely fundamentally believe we can improve in that area. And if we can get to one proposition across all territories, across all channels, then we’ll be a lot, lot stronger business.

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