William Hill appoints Bowcock

William Hill appoints Bowcock

Friday, March 10, 2017 Posted by Scott Longley
Interim chief executive gets post full-time

After what William Hill chairman Gareth Davies described as a “comprehensive recruitment process”, the UK-listed bookmaking and gaming giant has finally confirmed the appointment of Philip Bowcock as full-time chief executive after having spent nine months as the interim boss.

The news of Bowcock filling the post full time came a matter of days ahead of the biggest betting week of the year with the Cheltenham Festival beginning on Tuesday.

Bowcock expressed confidence that the company was heading in the right direction. “We have made an awful lot of progress in the last six months,” he told TotallyGaming.com, suggesting his priority for the future was to focus on the customer. “We will be getting the product right, spending effectively on marketing and also getting the tech right.”

Bowcock has been in temporary control ever since the sacking of previous chief executive James Henderson who left under a cloud following a profit warning and an underwhelming online performance.

Bowcock joined William Hill as finance director in November 2015 from Cineworld. Reports suggested the appointment of Bowcock will hasten the departure of Davies as chairman. He has been in place since 2010, working first with then chief executive Ralph Topping before overseeing the Henderson succession.

In the past year William Hill has been involved in two large-scale merger discussions, first with the £3bn unsolicited approach from 888 and Rank and latterly with the failed discussions with Amaya over a £4.6bn tie-up.

As with the rest of the high-street bookmakers, William Hill is awaiting news of the ongoing UK government triennial review which is looking into the stakes and prizes for gaming machines.

Bowcock expressed confidence in the outcome of the review and pointed out that in terms of the recent UK Gambling Commission focus on putting the consumer first, the bookmakers were well-placed. “We are in ongoing discussion with the Commission. We have many thousands of customer interactions in the shops,” he said before admitting that regulations were “not going to get any easier.”

At the end of February, William Hill announced its results for the year showing net revenue up 1 percent to £1.6bn but with adjusted operating profit falling 10 percent to £261.5m. Online revenue was down 3 percent to £544.8m but in the seven weeks to mid-February UK sportsbook revenues were up 10 percent  and gaming was 8 percent ahead of the same period in 2016.

Totally Gaming says: Having spent nine months in the chief executive chair already, Bowcock needs no introduction to the problems that William Hill faces. Much is external with the findings of the triennial review looking large. But getting things right in digital will be the priority, especially given what we have seen just this past week from Paddy Power Betfair and how that business is shaping up. In the game of follow the leader, Bowcock has his work cut out matching what is being done elsewhere in the sector, specifically in Hammersmith and Dublin.

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