William Hill to close more than 100 shops

Bookmaker William Hill today said it would be closing 109 shops this year, putting about 420 jobs at risk, following a hike in duty on betting machines in last month’s Budget.

The move was announced as the firm said operating profits for the first quarter were lower than a year ago, when its bottom line benefited from an “outstanding” gross win margin.

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Chief executive Ralph Topping said: “As a direct result of the government’s unexpected announcement about an increase in machine games duty to 25 per cent, we have reviewed shop profitability and will be closing a portfolio of 109 shops this year, putting about 420 shop employees at risk of redundancy.

“This is particularly disappointing as, through the economic downturn, we have worked hard to grow our retail base but this further planned increase in indirect taxation makes this action necessary.”