There’s to be a changing of the guard within the highest echelons of William Hill, following the bookies’ announcement that 700 of its shops are to close.
The company’s board of directors have given CEO Philip Bowcock his marching orders after little over just two years in the job – saying that the decision was driven by the necessity to refocus its strategy away from landed betting and onto the online market. A William Hill spokesperson said the change was “consistent with the group’s strategy of becoming a digitally led and internationally diverse gambling company.”
And indeed, it’s to be the company’s present chief digital officer, 47 year-old Swedish national Ulrik Bengtsson, who is slated to step into Bowcock’s shoes at the end of the month – despite having only been with the firm for little over a year.
According to one insider source quoted by the Financial Times, Bowcock was asked to stand aside in favour of Bengtsson by the company’s chairman Roger Devlin.
Devlin himself has remained tight-lipped as to the specific machinations behind the decision, but stated: “having overseen the group’s digital operations for 18 months… [Mr Bengtsson] knows the business well and is ideally suited to lead our next phase of growth.”
Internal machinations aside, changes afoot at WillHill will certainly play out in the UK market irrespective of the change of personnel.
The company are taking a giant leap off the declining British high streets in favour of the bright lights of US sportsbetting and the land of promise online. And for that, whether you have a Bowcock or Bengtsson, the UK is turning into the shit of the stick for many betting companies.