William Hill is expecting to record full-year operating profits of between £143m and £148m, ahead of market and management expectations as a consequence of a set of favourable sporting results.
In retail, the company’s “remodelling strategy”, which included a plan to shut 700 shops as a result of the UK government’s crackdown on FOBTs, was partnered with favourable results in December. Generated operating profit was above the guided range of £50m-£70m, with gaming also performing ahead of expectations.
Online in the UK, growth was in line with the market for the third consecutive quarter, with weakness in gaming net revenue offset by a strong sporting gross win margin. Online international performance was mixed, with net revenue expected to be broadly flat on a pro forma basis during Q4; sports book net revenue was weak, while a good performance in gaming was driven by Mr Green.
William Hill’s US business continued to generate strong growth during Q4, driven by wagering growth and “disciplined investment”. William Hill now expects to be break-even for the US business overall in 2019, compared to the guided range of $0m to -$20m.
William Hill also reported “good progress” towards the group’s goal of delivering its long-term ambition to become a “digitally-led and internationally diversified business of scale while continuing to embed a culture of responsible gaming.”
CEO Ulrik Bengtsson said: "The group has delivered a strong operating performance, ahead of our expectations and against a challenging regulatory backdrop.
“We made good progress on a number of fronts, including our retail business, online and in the US, enabling us to deliver on our long-term strategic ambitions. We look forward to building on these efforts in 2020 with a strong focus on customer, team and execution."
Meanwhile, William Hill has announced that CFO and director Ruth Prior is to step down and return to the private equity sector, joining Element Materials Technology as CFO.
The group's board has started its search to identify a successor. Prior's contract requires her to give 12 months' notice period and her departure date will be determined "in due course".