Despite recording a nine per cent rise in Q4 revenue, William Hill (WH) has revealed that its net revenue in 2020 fell 16 per cent to £1.32bn (US$1.8bn/€1.48bn).
With its lockdowns, disruption of the sporting calendar and forced bricks-and-mortar closures, the company blamed the rupture of Covid-19 for the negative impact on finances.
Said Chief Executive Ulrik Bengtsson: “2020 was a year like no other. It tested our agility and flexibility. [But] we delivered, keeping our customers and team safe, whilst materially improving our competitive position through product enhancements and geographical expansion.”
Biggest hit was to the company’s iconic UK bookies. Enforced closures meant that revenue from its real-world retail outlets fell, year-on-year, by 30 per cent. This trading vertical, of 1,414 shops, lost an estimated £30m (US$40.97m/€33.65m).
However, most significantly, WH was able to repay the British government the £24.5m (US$33.46/€27.48m) it received under the furlough scheme. And throughout the pandemic retail staff received full pay.
With the exception of its sportsbooks, which were obviously affected by suspension of the sporting calendar, online operations flourished. Net revenue on its international operations, for example, was up 12 per cent. Online gaming also saw growth, up 18 per cent, relative to 2019; while specifically British online gaming operations, in Q4, for instance, enjoyed an even bigger increase of 20 per cent.
Amid the overall gloom, there was positive news from the USA.
William Hill US went live in five states and online operations led a 32 per cent surge in overall revenue. The merger of Caesars Entertainment (CE) with Eldorado Resorts saw Caesars’ in-person sportsbooks migrate to the CE-William Hill US joint venture platform.
William Hill’s biggest news of 2020 was of course the firm’s £2.9bn (US$3.96bn/€3.25bn) sale to Caesars Entertainment. Approved in November by WH shareholders, the merger now awaits formal approval by US gaming authorities, expected by March.
In the year of living Covidly, Chief Executive Bengtsson remains: “Immensely proud of the William Hill team which has been relentless in its focus on delivering a great product and service to our customers, with player safety at its heart.”