William Hill revenue falls 57% during lockdown

William Hill revenue falls
Total revenue for the first 17 weeks was down by 27 per cent.

Betting giant said that each month its betting shops were closed cost the company up to £15million

UK.- Bookmaker William Hill has released figures showing revenue for the seven weeks from March 11 to April 28 fell by 57 per cent year-on-year as a result of the closure of shops and the cancellation of live sports events.

William Hill said that each month its betting shops were closed cost the company up to £15million.

It said the amount is lower than initially estimated as it had reduced outgoings and taken advantage of government support to pay employees as it furloughed shop staff, deferring recruitment, deferring dividend payments, cancelling pay rises and bonus payments and cutting marketing spend.

The company said it had also agreed a waiver on covenant tests for its debt this year and had agreed more relaxed terms for 2021.

The bookmaker revealed in a trading statement that total revenue for the seven weeks from March 11 to April 28 fell by 57 per cent. Retail revenue fell by 85 per cent but online revenue also dropped steeply, falling by 21 per cent owing to the absence of live sport. 

In the first ten weeks of the year before the pandemic hit, the company performed well, particularly in international online revenue, which was up 35 per cent largely due to the company’s acquisition of MRG Group. 

It means the company’s revenue for the first 17 weeks of 2020 was down by 27 per cent year-on-year. 

William Hill said it expected UK and US businesses to recover quickly as live sport events began and physical distancing plans allowed betting shops to reopen. It said it planned to make a phased reopening of its 2,000 betting shops in the UK from July.

The company said it was encouraged by the resumption of football, which accounts for around half of its online UK sports business, with the German Bundesliga resuming matched behind closed doors this past weekend and a resumption of the UK’s Premier League expected in July.

Horse racing, which accounts for around a third of William Hill’s online UK sports business, has resumed in France and is expected to restart in the UK on June 1 and in Ireland on June 8.

The company’s Chief Executive, Ulrik Bengtsson, said: “William Hill has overcome many challenges in its 86-year history, and I am exceptionally proud of the team and their response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We have worked hard to protect them, and in turn they have done the same for our customers.

“We reacted quickly to the cancellation of sports activities and the closure of our retail estate. We took immediate measures to save costs, reduce cash outflow and minimise non-essential expenditure by negotiating with our suppliers, cancelling pay rises and executive bonuses and suspending the dividend.

“We have preserved liquidity and amended the terms of our net debt covenant, leading to significant, balance sheet headroom. This will enable us to continue to invest for growth, most notably in the US, as plans there to roll out sports betting continue apace.”

William Hill said it had increased six times the volume of responsible gambling messages sent to customers. The company previously welcomed the BGC’s agreement to suspend advertising on TV and radio until at least June 5. 

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