William Hill warn of local lockdown effects as revenue falls in third quarter

Revenues at William Hill fell by nine per cent in the third quarter of the year as the bookmaker warned of the effect local lockdowns would have on their retail estate.

Hills, who have agreed a £2.9 billion takeover by US casino giant Caesars Entertainment, said in a trading update on Wednesday that closing 100 betting shops for four weeks would hit their core earnings by £2 million.

Their overall figures represented a recovery compared to the first half of the year when net revenue fell by 32 per cent due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The company said performance during the latest period had been "encouraging" across all their divisions, with online revenue up four per cent and the UK betting shop business down two per cent on a like-for-like basis.

Hills said betting shop footfall was returning towards pre-Covid levels but that around ten per cent of their retail estate of 1,414 shops was located in regions where the alert level was classified as "very high".

In the United States, where William Hill now operate in 14 states, revenue was up ten per cent.

The company also warned that new regulations in Germany would reduce ebitda (earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation) by around £10m next year.

Chief executive Ulrik Bengtsson said: "We are very pleased with the trading performance of the group, which has been borne out of the commitment, resilience and hard work of our teams across the business. I could not be prouder of them.

"We have moved the company forward with our relentless focus on our customers, enhancing the competitiveness of our product, and maintaining player safety as one of our highest priorities. We have reinvigorated the leadership team and they, in turn, have empowered their teams to deliver on our plans."

Gavin Kelleher, gaming and leisure analyst for Goodbody Stockbrokers, described Hills' performance in the third quarter as "slightly mixed".

He added: "UK retail, given the restrictions and lower footfall, performed well considering. The group continues to make strategic progress in the US launching in more states. However, the online performance looks on the soft side to us in comparison to what we have seen from peers lately."