Presenting its full year 2015 corporate results this morning (52-week period ending 29 December), William Hill governance detailed that the company had paid circa £87 million in additional UK gambling duties.
The hefty tax charge would impact the FTSE listed betting operator’s top-line metric performance, with William Hill announcing FY 2015 operating profit slump of 22% to £291 million (FY 2014 – £372 million).
Publishing other performance metrics William Hill would record a 1% decline in 2015 net revenues of £1.59 billion, the revenue performance would be in-line with 2014’s £1.6 billion, a tough comparative period which included 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Issuing a trading update in January, William Hill governance had warned the markets of the impact of increased gambling duties on its 2015 performance. The operator had stated that 2015 had been a year of ‘re-adjustments to new market conditions imposed by tax headwinds.
Planning for 2016, this morning the board of William Hill announced that it had implemented a £200 million share buyback scheme to be completed over the next 12 months.
With the UK betting industry seeing mass-consolidation in 2015, William Hill governance stated that the company would continue to priortise its ‘in-house first’ technology development strategy.
In 2015 William Hill launched new platform mobile and website platform ‘Project Trafalgar’, the operator will further release its ‘Omni-Channel proprietary self-services betting terminal in H1 2016.
James Henderson, Chief Executive Officer of William Hill, commented on FY 2015 Performance:
“In the last 12 months, we have made substantial operational progress against our three strategic priorities of omni-channel, technology and international.
“In technology terms, Online now has a platform that allows us to deliver rapid and frequent innovations to customers, further differentiating our offering. We are also now preparing to roll out our proprietary self-service betting terminal in Retail. This is an important part of our omni-channel strategy and enables us to bring the best of Online to our shops.
“Internationally, I’m particularly pleased that William Hill Australia is now benefitting from our reshaping and investment in the business. We now have one of the highest rated betting apps in Australia and during the William Hill-sponsored Australian Open we acquired an impressive c1,000 customers a day and saw a 680% increase in tennis in-play turnover. “We have made further good progress on measures to encourage responsible gambling, including using algorithms to identify potentially harmful behaviour and helping to develop a national, cross-operator selfexclusion scheme.
“As one of the largest scale businesses in gambling, the Board is confident in the outlook for the year ahead and believes the Group is well placed to deliver on its growth strategy.
“We have reviewed our priorities for capital alongside our strengthening balance sheet and our continued good cash generation. Together, these underpin our decision to announce a share buyback alongside our ongoing investment to grow the business. In addition, the Board has increased the dividend payout ratio to around 50% of adjusted earnings, reflecting our focus on delivering value for shareholders.”