Struggling Hills appoints new online chief

Struggling Hills appoints new online chief

Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Crispin Nieboer has been named as MD online at William Hill

William Hill has appointed Crispin Nieboer as its online managing director after revealing a huge drop in digital revenue during the first four months of 2016.

Nieboer took the role on an interim basis in January after the shock departure of Andrew Lee, just months after the launch of Project Trafalgar, the company’s new digital platform. He steps up to the position after previously serving as William Hill’s director of corporate development and innovation.

Group revenue for the period was down three per cent on the corresponding period last year, with the bookmaker’s online arm being hit particularly hard by an 11-per-cent year-on-year decline in revenue. Online gaming revenue was down four per cent in the 17-week period, while sportsbook dropped by 17 per cent due to losses at the Cheltenham Festival and in European football. The company also said that “the online business continues to be impacted by time-outs and self-exclusions; we are monitoring this closely”.

William Hill reiterated its expectation that operating profit for 2016 will fall to between £260m (€330m/$376m) and £280m, compared to £291m last year.

“It has been a tough start to the year in online, which is being impacted by both regulatory change and a gross win margin below normalised levels for the period due to a disappointing Cheltenham festival and unfavourable European football results,” said James Henderson, chief executive of William Hill.

“Trends in recent weeks remain in line with the guidance we gave in March.

"In retail, it is pleasing to see gaming growth improve again and we are on track with the roll-out of our self-service betting terminal before Euro 2016, allowing us to bring the best of online to our shops ahead of a big summer of sport.

“Australia is showing benefits of our improved offering and strengthening brand in the market, and the US continues to be strong.”

William Hill’s share price was down by more than two per cent today (Wednesday), and may continue to struggle, according to Simon French, analyst at Cenkos.

He said: “Crispin Nieboer has been appointed MD of Online which should bring some stability to a division which has dramatically lost its way and impacted - seemingly more than its peers - by time-outs and self-exclusions where the trends remain unchanged.

“The stock has performed strongly into the update but earnings and returns are falling and headwinds remain.”

TotallyGaming.com says: “William Hill will hope that the appointment of Nieboer on a permanent basis can steady the ship following a period of decline since Project Trafalgar’s launch. It seems that big changes are needed if it is to get back on course.”

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