William Hill plans ‘staged opening’ of betting shops in second half of 2020

15 May 2020, 08:04

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William Hill to start reopening in second half. Picture: PA

It did not reveal when the first shops would throw open their doors.

William Hill will start to reopen its UK betting shops bit by bit in the second half of the year as it keeps an eye on developments in the US.

The betting giant revealed it would start a “staged opening” in the second six months of the year, which begins in July.

However, it did not reveal when the first shops were likely to start inviting customers back in.

“We remain focused on player safety, employing ever more customer protection. We are taking care of our teams, securing as many employment opportunities as possible and we are ready to power up the business as soon as Covid-19 restrictions permit,” said chief executive Ulrik Bengtsson.

Hundreds of bookmakers have closed their doors across the country as the Government has ordered non-essential businesses to remain shut to slow the spread of coronavirus.

It has had a major effect on William Hill’s top line, the company revealed on Friday.

Total net revenue dropped by 57% in the seven weeks to April 28.

The US was the hardest hit, falling by 90%, while sports betting dropped 86% over the period.

Many sports have cancelled events altogether, giving punters little to bet on.

However some have found more obscure events, such as table tennis or emerging market football, causing online sports wagers to fall by less than expected, William Hill said.

Mr Bengtsson said: “We reacted quickly to the cancellation of sports activities and the closure of our retail estate. We took immediate measures to save costs, reduce cash outflow and minimise non-essential expenditure by negotiating with our suppliers, cancelling pay rises and executive bonuses and suspending the dividend.”

He added: “Our ambition to build a digitally led, internationally diverse business of scale is proving beneficial during the disruption as our international online business has performed very strongly.”

By Press Association

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