William Hill online recovery to take two years

William Hill online recovery to take two years

Friday, October 7, 2016 Posted by Andy McCarron
New online boss presents to analysts

William Hill told analysts earlier this week that it hopes to stabilise its position in the market next year and grow market share ahead of the next World Cup taking place in Russia in 2018.

The online teach-in was designed to reassure analysts after a rocky 12 months. Since October last year, the company has suffered a disastrous relaunch of its sports-betting app around this time last year, the departure of its previous online chief Andy Lee in January and a profit warning in March caused by the introduction of new responsible gaming and self-exclusion measures.

New online boss Crispin Nieboer, who took on the role on a permanent basis in May, spoke to analysts about the changes he has instigated since taking over and said that the turnaround strategy would take two years.

Analysts from Numis responded to the teach-in by suggesting that though there were signs of progress they “would not expect a v-shaped recovery”. “We think the actions being taken to reverse the decline are sensible, but nothing more than what should have been done originally and what is being done by many competitors,” said Richard Stuber in a note to clients.

Stuber added that the measures that William Hill said were being undertaken included the launch of new products, better site navigation, improving the conversion rates of new sign-ups, and more effective marketing.

He noted that according to market research house Kantar, William Hill’s market share for 18-35-year-old football bettors has fallen from joint top operator at 25% to third place with 20%.

“More generally, management intends to stabilize online market share in 2017 before growing it in 2018, ahead of the Football World Cup in Russia,” Stuber added.

William Hill’s next trading update is slated for mid-November when it will likely update on its progress to date in remedying some of the issues foregrounded in the round-up at the time of the half-year results in August.

Stuber pointed out that at the teach-in William Hill management “appear(ed) satisfied” with the progress has seen since May with “notable” improvements in player lifetime values and retention rates. “In addition, there has been no deterioration in trends regarding self-exclusion and timeouts, a key driver of the March profit warning,” he wrote.

Stuber added that with a decent run of Premier League results since the start of the season, he expected the guidance for full year EBIT of circa £280m to be reiterated. However, with the potential for further machine regulation in the retail business, Stuber remains neutral on the company’s prospects.

Totally Gaming says: William Hill’s online business is trying to recover its footing after a difficult year. It is no surprise that it should say that the measures it is instituting will take time to have effect, but the issue it faces is that the market is clearly not standing still in the meantime.

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