William Hill pencils in profits drop as high street shops disappoint

William Hill expects full year profits to drop 15%, with the bookmaker blaming conditions on the high street.

The bookmaker said that adjusted operating profit is set to come in at £234 million, lower than last year but in line with expectations and within the previously guided range of £225 million to £245 million.

William Hill hailed “excellent growth in the US”, but bemoaned a reduction in retail profits, which it said were “challenged by wider high street conditions”.

Last year, the firm warned over profits as regulatory and tax changes hit online growth, saying it will knock it by £20 million in 2018 and a further £25 million in 2019.

William Hill is among gambling firms set to be hit by the Government’s crackdown on fixed-odds betting terminals, limiting the maximum stake to just £2 from £100, which will take effect in October next year.

But the company is looking to provide alternative gaming options as well as refocusing its estate to offset the hit from the regulation.

Boss Philip Bowcock said: “2018 was a pivotal year for both William Hill and the wider industry. We now have greater clarity around the key challenges and opportunities for our business. In 2019 we will remodel our retail offer while building a digitally-led international business.”

It is also taking advantage of the legalisation of sports gambling in many states in the United States.

It hoped to broadly break-even in the US in 2018, after allowing for significant expansion costs.

William Hill is also acquiring elsewhere, splashing out £241 million for Sweden-based online betting firm Mr Green & Co.

In a nod to the deal, Mr Bowcock added: “With rapid expansion under way in the US, building on profitable foundations, and the acquisition of Mr Green nearing completion, we look forward to making further progress this year.”