FTSE250 William Hill Plc publishes its provisional outcomes for 2019 (26-week period ending July 2), detailing strong progress on the company’s five-year business transformation plan (announced November 2018) concentrating on the three key fields of digital development, US market growth and retail realignment.
William Hill, updating investors, said H1 2019 trading reflected the’ different challenges and opportunities ‘ the group is attempting to tackle during a strategic transition era.
William Hill’s CEO, Philip Bowcock, commented: “We are making good progress against the five-year strategy outlined last year, delivering strong revenue growth in the US and other international markets and positioning William Hill well for future growth.” The FTSE betting group records a 1% increase in group revenues to £ 811 million (H12018: £ 802 million) impacted by the UK’s £ 2 stake cap.
The trading period saw exceptional items and adjustment costs for William Hill totaling £ 114 million, of which the bookmaker allocates £ 97 million to retail’ mitigation measures,’ including the suggested closure of 700 betting stores.
The betting group also reports another £ 60 million capital spending on technology investments that support its US market growth strategy.
Bowcock added: “In the US, both in Nevada and in the new countries, we continue to grow quickly with over $1bn wagering in the first quarter with us. We are now living in eight countries and will grow into at least two more countries in H2. “William Hill announced in detail that his expanded online business has overcome his period of improved client due diligence measures’ with year-on-year effects set to end.’
“With Mr Green’s takeover, online international sales have risen sharply, up 66 percent,” Bowcock said. “We are becoming increasingly diverse with non-UK markets now contributing a third of online sales, up from just 24% last year. In the UK, performance has improved by half, up seven percent in Q2, as we manage the tax and regulatory impacts. “Closing a busy period of high activity and cost, William Hill declared £ 76 million in’ adjusted’ group operating profits, down 33 percent from £ 113 million in H1 2018.
The company added: “We continue to make significant progress in working with other significant operators on a package of initiatives to improve gambling security and solve government gambling issues.
“The second, following the voluntary ban on advertising whistle-to-whistle, was a commitment to increase our funding for research, education and treatment and was formally announced in the House of Commons on 2 July by the Secretary of State for the Department of Communications, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
“As Shadow Secretary of State and the Gambling Commission, Tom Watson also welcomed this. We do not see this as the end of our duties and we continue to work with the sector to create extra policies to safeguard our clients, in line with our vision that gambling does not harm anyone.