Betting shops closed down for good in the United Kingdom due to the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic over the industry.
William Hill is to permanently close 119 of its betting shops in the UK, due to the adverse impact of the pandemic on the retail environment.
The company stated that the move will incur “minimal cost”, as William Hill merges its online and retail divisions in the UK with the goal of improving operational efficiency.
The decision comes as William Hill announced that its net revenues are down 32 per cent during the first half of 2020, driven by Covid-19 disruption to sporting events and the temporary closure of retail activities, while being offset by favourable sports results and a resilient gaming performance.
The company also stated that the robust recovery in the second half of the year to date will see £24.5m in job retention scheme cash received from the UK government repaid.
William Hill’s media partnership with CBS Sports is now live in the US, while operations commenced in three new states. The launch of igaming in New Jersey is “imminent” and Eldorado’s completion of its acquisition of Caesars brings William Hill’s US market share of sports wagering to 29 per cent.
Ulrik Bengtsson, William Hill’s CEO, said: “Our trading was strong before Covid-19, we controlled costs effectively during lockdown and we have recovered well post-lockdown with good performances in our online businesses throughout the first half.
The furlough scheme provided welcome and timely support and meant we could protect the jobs of our 7,000 UK retail colleagues. Therefore, given the strength of our recovery post-lockdown, we have decided to repay the furlough funds.
We have continued to develop both our technology platform and our product offerings, with more significant enhancements to come in the second half. The balance sheet has been strengthened by the prompt actions we took to keep cash in the business, the successful placing, and the recognition of the VAT refund.
As a result, we have the financial strength to confidently pursue our growth agenda, taking advantage of our market leading position in sports betting in the US, and the terrific opportunity that Eldorado’s merger with Caesars brings.”