888 to rebrand as Evoke Plc amid rise in revenue

888 has come through recent challenges to report a growth in revenue for 2023.
888 has come through recent challenges to report a growth in revenue for 2023.

CEO Per Widerström said the board will vote on a new name at its AGM.

UK.- The London-listed gambling operator 888 Holdings has announced that it plans to change its name to Evoke Plc. It made the announcement while reporting full-year results for 2023.

Revenue was up 38 per cent year-on-year at £1.7m, while adjusted EBITDA was up by 41 per cent at £308.3m. However, CEO Per Widerström said the group would launch a new value creation plan to boost revenue growth. He said the company would also change its name to reflect that it had “changed the mix of our business” in recent years.

Widerström said that 888’s business, which now includes William Hill in Europe, is “fundamentally different to the previous individual businesses that made up the combination”. He said the name Evoke Plc “better reflects the combined group, our mission and values, alongside the clear strategic framework and value creation plan we are announcing today, will better support the business in reaching its significant potential”.

The rebranding follows a trend among the big UK players. In 2019, Paddy Power Betfair plc renamed itself Flutter Plc. GVC Holdings became Entain in December 2020.

888’s value creation plan

Meanwhile, the value creation plan is intended to generate revenue growth of up to nine per cent per year. Key pillars include driving profitable and sustainable revenue growth, an adjusted EBITDA margin expansion of 100 basis points per year and a “highly disciplined” use of capital.

The group aims to improve profitability and efficiency through operating leverage and, by investigating in insights, artificial intelligence and intelligent automation to deliver productivity at a lower cost. It also plans to redefine its market archetypes into Core Markets, including the UK, Italy, Spain and Denmark, and Optimise Markets, where it would “prioritise cash flow generation and value maximisation through leveraging our enhanced capabilities and scale”.

888 was left straddled with debt after its William Hill acquisition in 2022. Earlier this year, it announced the termination of its deal with Sports Illustrated and plans to sell or exit its US B2C operations due to intense competition and low margins. It had entered into an exclusive deal with Authentic Brands in 2021 to offer sports betting with its Sports Illustrated brand name.

“Our financial leverage is relatively high in the context of our sector, but I firmly believe this will be a significant positive driver of our return on equity and will magnify the returns that we will generate in the coming years,” Widerström said. “Our business is highly cash generative and we will use this cash wisely to ensure we deliver profitable growth and deleveraging, thereby multiplying our return on equity.”

He added: “We are at the beginning of an exciting new journey. We will build on our strong foundations through a clear strategy and focused plan that will deliver sustainable profitable growth and unlock significant value creation.

“I look forward to updating shareholders and our wider stakeholders on progress against our plans over the coming months and years.”

The new name also suggests a desire to put certain things in the past. Last week, 888 announced that the Gambling Commission had completed 888’s licence review with no further regulatory action to be taken. The regulator began the review of 888 in July of last year as the result of concerns triggered by FS Gaming’s interest in the operator.

FS Gaming is an investment fund run by former GVC Holdings (now Entain Plc) execs Kenneth Alexander (ex-CEO), Lee Feldman (ex-Chairman) and Stephen Morana, who were subject to an HMRC investigation over claims of bribery involving a former Turkish subsidiary. In August, FS Gaming reduced its stake in 888 after the operator rowed back on plans to make Alexander CEO.

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