William Hill upbeat despite slight loss

William Hill has posted a slight loss after tax for 2013 (down 2 per cent to £226.5m) but the underlying trends in the business indicate a company still on the up. Net revenue for the whole company was up 16% to £1.49bn with Retail Net Revenue up 8% to £907m and online Net Revenue jumping 10% to £446.3m.

Operating profit was flat though, up by 1% to £335m. These figures are even better when considering they are being compared to a 53 week year which contained a major sporting tournament (two if you count the London Olympics).

Chief executive Ralph Topping commented: “Our focused transformation of the Group over the last five years means William Hill is now one of the world’s leading multi-channel betting and gaming businesses, with revenues diversified through the rapid growth of Online and through careful expansion into selected international markets.

“This transformation accelerated in the last 12 months with the Group establishing a second home market in Australia through the acquisitions of Sportingbet and tomwaterhouse.com, and acquiring the 29% of William Hill Online controlled by Playtech, while maintaining an appropriate capital structure through a well-supported £373m (net) rights issue and a £375m corporate bond issue. As a result, our Online and Australia activities accounted for around half our operating profit and international markets contributed 15% of net revenue in 2013.”

Topping described the Online’s Sportsbook performance as ‘sparkling’, with staking levels up around 400 per cent over the five years since the start of 2009. Mobile Sportsbook now represents 39 per cent of Sportsbook wagering in 2013. Topping said: “We put greater focus behind mobile gaming in 2013 and have made good progress in bringing our offer up to match the high standards we’ve set with our Sportsbook. Our product range is vastly expanded and the customer experience is greatly enhanced, with more improvements to come in 2014. The results reflect this, with mobile gaming net revenue growing by 175% on a 52 week basis.”

He added: “Importantly, Retail remains resilient, despite the ongoing squeeze on our core customer base’s discretionary spend and the large-scale expansion of online and mobile in the UK. At the same time, our international expansion strategy is progressing well with Online’s locally licensed offerings in Italy and Spain taking market share, the US business now profitable and Australia established as our second home market, with potential to expand into a more mass market customer base.”


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