New Broom Widerström Initiates Sweeping Reforms As 888 Releases Year-end Updates

Brand new CEO Per Widerström has promised sweeping strategic upscaling at troubled 888 Holdings as the troubled UK gambling giant released a Trading Update on Q4 and Full Year 2023 performance.

The owner of storied William Hill, 888, and Mr Green, reported revenue of £424 million (US$538.13m) for the three months ending December 2023; a five percent increase from the previous quarter but seven percent down, year-on-year.

Total revenue for 2023 was £1.711 billion (US$2.17bn) — representing an eight percent decline on 2022.

“I have joined the business at both an exciting and important time,” affirmed Widerström. “[And] there are clear opportunities to unlock our significant potential.

“But as a business we know that going forward we must be more proactive in adapting to changes in regulation and technology.

“We are now taking rapid actions to position the Group for future success, reducing our overhead costs and freeing up funds to invest in growth based upon our new strategy and value creation plan.

“The financial performance of the Group must improve, and the actions we are taking will build a leaner, more agile, and more effective organisation structure, as well as establishing a more effective management of the customer and product life cycle,” stressed Widerström (pictured left).”

888, which fired long-serving CEO Itai Pazner at the start of 2023–nominally for AML and corruption breaches in the Mid-East market–, asserted that a major impact on trading had been “a strategic shift away from dotcom markets…impacting revenues by approximately £80 million over the year”.

Rain in Spain…but

Tighter safer gambling measures and strengthened regulatory frameworks across most markets had also been significant market dampeners.

While UK Retail was up three percent, post-Covid19 pandemic UK Online was down by eight percent, the 888 Trading Update highlighted.

888’s international iGaming segment–despite positive growth in core markets Italy and Spain–was down by an even bigger 16 percent.

Now boasting a new executive team of Sean Wilkins as CFO; Rik Barker, Chief Information Technology Officer; Ian Gallagher, Chief Product Officer; Fredrik Ekdahl, Group General Counsel; and Jeffrey Haas as Chief Growth Officer, 888 is projecting an Adjusted EBITDA Margin of around 18 percent for 2023, aligning with previous forecasts.

The Group has initiated a global cost savings program of approximately £30 million (US$38.07m), which will support increased marketing spend in 2024.

Added Widerström: “I am pleased to say that the business has enhanced its foundations for sustainable and profitable growth including significantly strengthening compliance, refining its approach to marketing investment, and increasing its focus on recreational customers.

“These plans support material value creation and significantly higher profits over the coming years.

“I have been working hard with the Board, our strengthened executive team, and the talented people across the business to refine our strategic framework, which is being translated into a value creation plan, and am confident that we are poised to deliver deleveraging and strong shareholder returns in the coming years.

“I am looking forward to outlining our 2024-2026 plan alongside our full year results in late March.”

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