William Hill has reported that its annual profits dropped by 91% after the pandemic forced the closure of its betting shops and saw live sports events cancelled. The group saw underlying pre-tax profits slump to £9.1m in 2020 from £96.5m in 2019.
Its betting shops were hit hard by repeated lockdowns and restrictions, with the retail arm slumping to a £29.5m loss as like-for-like revenues plunged 30%. William Hill’s online business delivered a 3% rise in earnings to £121.9m, but this was not enough to offset the retail woes.
Ulrik Bengtsson, CEO of William Hill, said: “In what was an extraordinary year I am immensely proud of how the group has responded and the resilience we have seen in our performance.
“We prioritised the protection and safety of both our colleagues and our customers, and our employees went above and beyond for which I thank them.
“In 2020 we put our strategic plans firmly into action, diversifying our geographical footprint, expanding our team’s capabilities and rebuilding our technology.
“We are embedding proprietary components across the platform architecture and are delivering a constant flow of new features including faster product experience, improved navigation and greater protection to our customers around the world.
“The performance in the second half is clear testimony that our strategy is bearing fruit. In the UK, the competitive position of our online offerings for both gaming and sports has been materially strengthened, and our omni-channel product is delivering encouraging early results.
“Retail has undergone regional disruption although where stores did re-open, they quickly traded towards pre-Covid levels.
“We are delighted with our international online performance, where our investment in our product and technology is producing clear benefits, particularly in light of the regulatory headwinds in Germany and temporary restrictions elsewhere.
“We will continue to benefit from our agile marketing engine, and the recent agreement to acquire Alfabet S.A.S. in Colombia and our licence in Argentina both offer further promising growth opportunities in Latin America.”