Operator Talk: William Hill benefits from digital and global growth

Operator Talk: William Hill benefits from digital and global growth

Friday, February 27, 2015

William Hill’s new chief executive James Henderson this (Friday) morning hailed “a really strong performance” as the company posted a record operating profit of £372.2m ($572.6m/€510.7m) for 2014, boosted by growth in digital and international markets.

The UK betting and gaming operator generated an increase of 11 per cent year-on-year in its operating profit, with online gaming net revenue up 17 per cent and mobile up 117 per cent.

The group registered an eight-per-cent increase in net revenue to £1.6bn, and said it was boosted by a “record-breaking” Fifa World Cup, although other sports results throughout the year were less favourable.

The company was boosted by performance in territories across the world, with Australia net revenue growth of 11 per cent at Aus$223m and US performance “ahead of expectations” with net revenue of its Nevada-based betting and gaming offering up 31 per cent to £29.7m and operating profit up 98 per cent to £9.7m.

Henderson, who replaced Ralph Topping in August 2014, described 2014 as “a record year”.

“Online was double digit growth and Australia and America doubled profits from last year,” he added this morning.

“Retail was just shy of the previous year, and that’s important because it’s a cash generative part of the business.

“We are reliant on good sporting results, although gaming now makes up 50 per cent of our revenues so that does offset the volatility of sport.

“We had three really poor loss-making weeks over the course of the year, which set us back, but we probably had our best Q3 ever which offset those losses.” 

As well as continued internationalisation, Henderson pointed to two other core parts of William Hill’s strategy that were a success during 2014 – “differentiation through technology” and “maximising the omni-channel opportunity of retail and online”.

William Hill believes it has a “unique opportunity” to lead the market in both retail and online, and says it is focusing on differentiating itself from its digital rivals.

It has great hopes for Project Trafalgar, which will be phased in during 2015 after two years of development and aims to vastly improve customer experience and avoid duplication of service across different platforms.

Henderson said: “It’s very difficult to differentiate yourself when pretty much everyone uses the same suppliers. We want to give our customers something they can’t get anywhere else.

“We have been very successful in doing that in the last few years with our Vegas platform and sports betting.

“Project Trafalgar will take it one step further, as customers will get a consistent performance no matter what device. It will also speed up the site and allows us to make changes in a much quicker timeline.”

The results came out a day after fellow UK bookmaking giant Ladbrokes posted net revenues of £1.159bn and operating profit of £125.4m, as reported here by TotallyGaming.com.

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