Aug 2, 2017

William Hill offsets football blues with online gains

Profits at William Hill fell in the first half after poor football results at the end of the domestic and European seasons but there were signs of a turnround following strong growth in the UK bookmaker's online business. Its share price rose more than 10 per cent to 280p in morning trading. Reporting results for the 26 weeks to 27 June, William Hill said net revenues increased 3 per cent over the same period a year earlier, to £837m, but pre-tax profits fell 7 per cent to £93.5m. In the retail division of betting shops, which represents 55 per cent of overall revenues, wagers increased 2 per cent to £1.2bn. But significantly lower margins from betting dragged down net revenues 2 per cent to £460.1m, while adjusted operating profits fell 14 per cent to £80.9m. Win margins were hit by "The absence of a major international football tournament", with last year's results boosted by the Euro 2016 championships. At the online division, which represents 35 per cent of group revenues, adjusted operating profits were up 32 per cent to £57.2m and wagers increased 11 per cent to £2.49bn. The company increased its interim dividend by 4 per cent to 4.26p per share. Among the expected proposals is a cut to maximum stakes on in-store gambling machines, which provide the largest source of revenues at some retail bookmakers, including William Hill.

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