Online Efforts Help William Hill Lessen Retail Slump

William Hill’s online sports betting revenue increased by 13 percent in the first half of 2017 despite a dip in retail profits.

Philip Bowcock William Hill.

Philip Bowcock’s online efforts have helped lessen the impact of William Hill’s recent retail slump. (Image: williamhillplc.com)

In its latest revenue report, William Hill announced that net revenue was up 3 percent to £873 million during the 26 weeks to 27 June. However, despite this upswing, pre-tax profits were down by 7 percent to £93.5 million.

Live Revenue Takes a Hit

Much of this drop has been attributed to tighter margins and lower football betting revenue across the company’s live betting shops. According to the stats, retail activity was up by 2 percent to £1.2 billion, but net revenue took an unexpected tumble due, in part, to the lack of major football competitions for customers to bet on.

With adjusted operating profits across its betting shops down by 14 percent, the outlook for William Hill could have been bleak were it not for improving online revenues. Since Philip Bowcock became chief executive back in March 2017, the operator’s online performance has gradually improved.

When Bowcock took charge, he stated that his mission was to invest more in the company’s online product. After falling behind its rivals for the last few years, Bowcock has increased William Hill’s online marketing efforts and that’s paid dividends.

Thanks to betting activity increasing by 11 percent, adjusted operating profit jumped by 32 percent in 2017. With online betting bringing in £57.2 million so far this year, Bowcock has vowed to continue William Hill’s virtual renaissance by rolling our new social media initiatives later this year.

Online Performances Pushes Up Share Price

Despite the operator’s mixed fortunes, the market responded positively to the latest report. During morning trading on August 2, William Hill’s FTSE350 price jumped up by more than 6 percent to 280p per share.

Although poorer than expected retail revenue hurt the company’s overall takings, the recent improvements online are a clear reflection of the way the industry is moving.

As Bowcock himself acknowledged in an interview with Reuters, younger bettors now expect online and mobile betting as a standard.

While the like of Paddy Power, Betfair, Ladbrokes and Coral have managed to agree mergers in recent times, William Hill has failed to agree any big money deals. In a bid to keep pace, William Hill has had to find new ways to appeal to younger punters.

With Bowcock at the helm, William Hill is embracing this dynamic and that’s something investors have clearly taken as a positive.

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