William Hill retail business was climbing its way out of a FOBT-shaped hole quite nicely until Covid-19 struck, but now the firm faces its biggest challenge yet.
Pre-disruption, William Hill retail was down three percent year-on-year in the 10 week period to 11 March, with a 30 percent reduction in gaming providing a reminder that B2s still existed in the same period last year. Better than expected B3 growth softened the blow, but it was largely offset by a very strong betting performance, up 17 percent.
“There is an irony that William Hill was therefore entering lockdown with a strong retail performance after tough remedial action – whether this is something that can be ‘banked’ for the return remains to be seen, with the period of time where sports return but retail remains closed/heavily restricted the key threat, in our view,” wrote Regulus Partners.
Post-disruption, retail was down 85 percent year-on-year during the seven week period to 28 April, with a 57 percent drop in net revenue across the entire company showing the extent of the Covid-19’s devastation. In total, for the 17-week period from 1 January to 28 April, revenue at William Hill was down 27 percent from the prior year. While the operator has slowly been shifting more and more towards digital, retail is still its bread and butter – which Covid-19 has taken off the menu.
“It is almost certainly a bigger challenge than anything the beleaguered group has faced yet,” concluded Regulus.