William Hill profits down 15% amid challenges on UK high street

William Hill’s profits tumbled last year amid challenges to its betting shops on the UK high street.

Adjusted operating profit fell 15% to £233.6 million for the 53 weeks to January 1 2019, in line with previous guidance from the board.

Revenue dipped 2% to £1.6 billion.

Within retail, which accounts for 55% of the group’s turnover, revenue was down 2% as a result of declining footfall on the high street.

The bookie is also remodelling its retail division to account for the new £2 stake limit on fixed odds betting terminals which comes into force in April this year.

However the company reported growth online and in the US.

The American market has been opened up to gambling firms after a court ruling in May 2018 gave states the right to legalise sports betting.

William Hill has since launched or expanded operations in New Jersey, West Virginia, Delaware, Mississippi, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania.

Net revenue was up 42%, giving William Hill a 34% market share in the seven regulated states.

Online net revenue was up 6%. The recent acquisition of digital betting firm Mr Green is expected to boost online expansion.

Chief executive Philip Bowcock said: “2018 was a busy and decisive year for us. Key regulatory decisions in the UK and US gave us much needed clarity to set a new five-year strategy and a goal to double profits by 2023.

“We have three businesses at different stages, with online growing in the UK and diversifying internationally, retail being remodelled in response to the new £2 stake limit, and rapid expansion in the US sports betting market.”

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