William Hill flags profits at top end of target range

William Hill recently scrapped a planned tie-up with Canadian poker firm Amaya. Picture: Contributed

William Hill recently scrapped a planned tie-up with Canadian poker firm Amaya. Picture: Contributed

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Bookmaker William Hill cheered the City today by flagging that full-year profits would be at the higher end of its £260 million to £280m target range.

Total net revenues lifted 6 per cent in the four months to 25 October, the group said in a trading update. It said the better performance was fuelled by a 4 per cent rise in digital revenues following a stronger performance from William Hill’s mobile Sportsbook and more favourable football results.

We remain on track to deliver 2016 operating profit at the top end of our guided range

Philip Bowcock

READ MORE: All bets off as William Hill ends Amaya merger talks

However, while gaming machine revenues increased 6 per cent, retail revenues trod water and over-the-counter takings fell 6 per cent.

Philip Bowcock, William Hill’s interim chief executive, said: “Online has returned to wagering growth in the UK following significant enhancements to our mobile Sportsbook in the second quarter and we are making good progress on the gaming and user experience improvements in second half.

“Looking forward, we remain on track to deliver 2016 operating profit at the top end of our guided range.”

The company said that it had identified £30m worth of cost savings next year, which it plans to plough back into its online business.

“With our significantly improved products and user experience, we are confident that this is the right time to invest further in our online business.”

The trading update comes after William Hill scrapped a potential £4.6 billion merger with Canadian poker firm Amaya last month after canvassing the views of its own major institutional investors.

That aborted deal came hot on the heels of Mecca Bingo operator Rank Group pulling out of a joint bid with 888 for William Hill.

The gambling industry has seen growing consolidation over the past year, with Paddy Power and Betfair merging, and Coral and Ladbrokes agreeing a £2bn merger.

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