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William Hill has tough year but still doesn’t announce new CEO

William Hill results

William Hill has reported a loss in 2016, but is yet to announce a full-time CEO, which was expected in a bid to restore confidence in shareholders.

It was “a challenging year” for UK bookmaker William Hill, according to the interim CEO, Philip Bowcock, who was picked to take a full time role when the annual results were released.

While the gambling company did not confirm the position, Bowcock did say the board was at the final stages of finding a permanent CEO.

Chairman Gareth Davis added it was an appointment which was coming “in a few weeks’ time.”

Reflecting on the results, the interim boss said there is: “encouraging signs in all our divisions, in particular online’s UK business.”

Results indicated online revenue was down three per cent to £544.8m, representing 34 per cent of group sales, while operating costs increased by five per cent.

This saw overall profits for the online division down by one-fifth to £100.5m.

Bowcock noted the revenue drop but indicated William Hill had “delivered numerous improvements to the product range, user experience and marketing” associated with the online division. He said he had already started to see the benefits at the start of 2017 and these could be continued throughout the year.

The interim CEO said benefits of a new “next generation” global platform will show up in 2018. The platform will see an investment of £30m over the next three years in conjunction with technology provider OpenBet.

The yearly results also included the mobile and international sectors which did much better than the oline division.

Mobile revenue increased and the interim chief put it down to the “substantially improved” betting application that was a hit during the 2016 Euro Football tournament.

The Australian branch reported a betting handle increase, while operating profit remained flat. This was despite the relocation costs of sending staff back to the Manila office. In-play revenue dropped from 11 per cent to 6 per cent following the government’s announcement to ban in-play wagering.

The Italian and Spanish regulated markets saw an operating profit increase, with the Spanish profits attributed to the addition of online slots in mid-2015.

Meanwhile, William Hill in the US now controls 108 of Nevada’s 192 betting shops, with the addition of five over the last year. The betting handle was up, with mobile wagering accounting for just over 50 per cent of all bets.

Despite the bleak results, the first seven weeks of 2017 has revealed “positive trends” with UK online sports wagering up 10 per cent and gaming revenue up eight per cent.

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