William Hill to Merge UK Online and Retail Businesses

William Hill to Merge UK Online and Retail Businesses

Movement in the executive offices

UK-based sports betting giant William Hill will soon combine its online and retail businesses in the United Kingdom. Details are not abundant on the strategy behind the restructuring, but the company indicated that the move will help it focus on financial recovery next year.

The inter-divisional merger will result in some corporate executive shuffling. UK online managing director Phil Walker will head the combined UK division. Nicola Frampton, who led the retail business, will move on from the company after helping Walker through a six-month transition. She called her ten years at William Hill “an absolute privilege.”

a driving force on the executive team”

William Hill CEO Ulrik Bengtsson praised Frampton, saying that she “has been a driving force on the executive team as well as being instrumental in reshaping and transforming our retail business.”

Charlotte Emery, the company’s global brand and marketing director, will shift to heading a new department called the “Brand Centre of Excellence.”

The company also plans on closing its office in Stockholm, Sweden as it continues to fuse 2018 online gambling acquisition Mr Green into the business. Additional “tough decisions about locations” will need to be made as William Hill attempts to streamline, likely leading to layoffs and employee transfers.

2020 is nearly a lost cause

With professional sports leagues and major sporting events around the world on hold this spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it should come as no surprise that a bookmaker like William Hill has fallen on tough times. Total group revenue dropped 57% from March 11 to April 28 compared to the same period in 2019.

It got a little better for the six weeks ending June 9, even with group revenue still down 50%. Though the company’s retail outlets made no money because of government-ordered closures, all other revenue streams improved. One – online international revenue – actually did better than in the previous year and the previous six weeks, rising from +5% to +7%.

Online sports betting led the recovery as horse racing and the German Bundesliga soccer league returned during the latest six-week period of record. In the United States, William Hill opened drive-through sportsbooks in Nevada because customers must signup for mobile accounts in person in the Silver State. NASCAR and UFC also got going again, giving gamblers something on which to bet.

Second major restructuring in a year

According to EGR Intel, which originally broke the story, the online/retail merger is expected to be completed in September 2020, about a year after another significant restructuring. Last fall, William Hill closed more than 700 retail betting shops in the UK because of the country’s new fixed-odds betting terminal (FOBT) regulations.

drastically reduced the amount of money betting operators could make in their retail shops

Gamblers used to be able to wager as much as £100 ($123.94) at a time at FOBTs, but as of April 1, 2019, that maximum bet was cut to just £2 ($2.48). The change in regulations drastically reduced the amount of money betting operators could make in their retail shops. William Hill’s store closures also resulted in the elimination of around 4,500 jobs.

The company is undeterred, though, setting its sights on the growing United States betting market. A couple weeks ago, William Hill raised £224m ($277.6m) via a share placement. The money is earmarked to support its U.S. sports betting business and for technology and marketing investment as it expands stateside.

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