Customer-friendly results hit William Hill’s bottom line

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James Henderson

William Hill has announced a 26% drop in profits after tax to £98.6m for the first half of the year, although net revenue over the period increased by 7% to £805.2m.

Group operating profit was 2 per cent lower at £176.9m, which the bookmaker said reflected the impact of more customer-friendly results year on year, particularly in the first quarter. However there was good profit growth in the second quarter, with underlying business progress more than offsetting the quarter’s year-on-year sports betting margin declines.

The Group’s World Cup performance has been very positive, seeing £172.5m of wagering and £27.8m of gross win at a margin of 16.1% from the World Cup results recorded in H1. Across the tournament as a whole, wagering from Retail, Online and Telephone was £208m, up £93m or 80% on the 2010 outcome. While gross win margin in these three channels was down (18.4% versus 27.9%), absolute gross win was up given the strong growth in wagering.

New CEO James Henderson said: “What excites me most is the potential for the business both in the UK and internationally as well as potential in both the digital world and on a multi-channel basis. We have an outstanding team whose insights are being applied to our international operations. With our scale, technology and first-rate team, there is a lot more we can do to drive revenues across our existing products and platforms.

“We will always face regulatory challenges given our focus on regulated markets, as well as volatility in sporting results. Greater diversity helps mitigate this risk. We have already strengthened our global reach with two home markets and evolving opportunities in Spain, Italy and the US. I believe this is the right strategy and I will be looking hard at how we can continue to create shareholder value in developing a focused but internationally orientated gambling group.”

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