William Hill’s financial results for 2018 revealed a drop in profits in the midst of ‘difficult high street conditions’.
Adjusted operating profit fell 15% to £233.6m for the 53 weeks up to 1st January 2019, in line with previous guidance from the firm following the government’s crackdown on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).
The bookie described retail performance as ‘resilient’, despite plans to axe up to 900 betting shops – net revenue was down 2% in the face of a ‘challenging backdrop’ on the UK high street. The company will remodel its retail division to offset the reduction in FOBT stake limits, from £100 to £2, which will be introduced in April this year.
However, William Hill reported ‘good underlying performance’ in its online division and ‘strong growth’ in the US. The company’s US expansion is now live in six states, following the repeal of PASPA, and it’s US-facing business delivered 42% net revenue and 91% adjusted operating profit growth.
The firm also acquired online betting firm Mr Green for around £242m to build its ‘international base and capabilities’.
Phillip Bowcock, Chief Executive Officer of William Hill, commented: “2018 was a busy and decisive year for us. Key regulatory decisions in the UK and US gave us much needed clarity to set a new five-year strategy… We have three businesses at different stages, with online growing in the UK and diversifying internationally, retail being remodelled in response to the new £2 stake limit, and rapid expansion in the US sports betting market.”