In the United Kingdom and prominent high street bookmaker William Hill has reportedly revealed that it will not be re-opening 119 of its shops following the recent partial lifting of a coronavirus-related lockdown.
According to a Wednesday report from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the London-listed firm is responsible for approximately 1,500 retail wagering outlets spread across the length and breadth of the country but recently recorded a 32% year-on-year decline in first-half revenues to £554.4 million ($730 million) owing to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak and its associated shutdown.
William Hill employs approximately 7,000 people in the United Kingdom and reportedly detailed that the decision is expected to affect the jobs of around 300 members of staff although most of these are to be redeployed for the permanent loss of less than 20 positions. The bookmaker purportedly also explained that it had taken the decision to keep the undisclosed locations closed due to concerns that punters may not return in sufficient numbers post-pandemic to make them profitable.
Reportedly read a statement from William Hill…
“We anticipate that longer term retail footfall will not return to pre-coronavirus levels and the 119 shops will remain closed following early lease breaks with the majority of colleagues redeployed within the estate.”
Conversely, the BBC reported that William Hill recently recorded a pre-tax profit for the first half of the year of about £141 million ($185.4 million) after chalking up a deficit for the same six-month period in 2019 of some £63 million ($82.8 million). The bookmaker is purportedly moreover in the process of repaying around £24.5 million ($32.2 million) in debt racked up during the lockdown and recently declared that its domestic business was undergoing a ‘robust recovery.’
The BBC furthermore reported that Hill last year revealed that it was considering whether to permanently shutter as many as 700 of its retail locations in the United Kingdom owing to the government’s decision to drop the maximum stake for fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) from £100 ($131) down to £2 ($2.62). However, the bookmaker is active in nine other countries and purportedly saw its international first-half revenues soar by 17% year-on-year with its market share in the embryonic United States sportsbetting market having grown to a very respectable 29%.
Ulrik Bengtsson, Chief Executive Officer for William Hill, recently reportedly proclaimed that was ‘delighted’ that his firm had performed so well ‘in these extraordinary times’ before praising the efforts of its ‘remarkable’ employees for ‘supporting each other and our customers throughout the pandemic’.
Bengtsson’s statement reportedly read…
“The furlough scheme provided welcome and timely support and meant we could protect the jobs of our 7,000 retail colleagues in the United Kingdom. Therefore, given the strength of our recovery post-lockdown, we have decided to repay the furlough funds.”