WILLIAM HILL ONLINE STUMBLES IN FIRST QUARTER RESULTS

Impacted by adverse results, self exclusion and time-outs.

Following a forecast warning at the end of March, William Hill has delivered a trading update for the 17 weeks to April 26, 2016 that reveals a disappointing online performance.

Despite trading in line with previous full-year operating profit guidance of GBP 260 – GBP 280 million, the group posted a 3 percent decline in group net revenue.

Online net revenues, gaming and sportsbook declined 11 percent, 4 percent and 17 percent respectively. The company said adverse sporting results, time-outs and self-exclusions had had a negative effect on trading.

Regionally, amounts wagered declined 2 percent in the UK market and gaming net revenue showed a decline of 5 percent partially offset by growth in the Vegas product suite, however, Italy and Spain continued to grow at a double-digit rate.

Retail performed well despite a lower turnover and adverse Cheltenham results, yielding a gross win margin in line with expectations and .6 percent ahead of the prior year.

Trading in Australia was reported as encouraging. Overall amounts wagered increased 10 percent but a lower gross win margin reflected weaker year-on-year horseracing results.

Wagering within the William Hill brand was up 22 percent, reflecting the refocusing of the business on the core digital customer base and the William Hill brand. Active customers were up by 1 percent, new accounts increased 46 percent.

William Hill US continued to perform strongly.  In local currency terms, amounts wagered were up 31 percent and net revenue was up 38 percent with gross win margins higher year-on-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,” James Henderson, chief executive officer of William Hill said.

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

In related news, William Hill confirmed the appointment of Crispin Nieboer as managing director of online having held the position since January on an interim basis.