William Hill is set to permanently close 119 of its UK betting shops due to the economic impact of Covid-19 on the retail environment.
The decision comes as the company announced that net revenues were down 32 percent during the first half of 2020, with blame given to Covid-19 disruption to sporting events and the temporary closure of retail activities. The company explained that the closures, which amount to about 8 percent of its UK venues, will incur “minimal cost” as the international bookmaker looks to improve operational efficiency via a merging of its online and retail divisions. The company also stated that the robust recovery in the second half of the year to date will see £24.5m in job retention scheme cash received from the UK government repaid.
“Our trading was strong before Covid-19, we controlled costs effectively during lockdown and we have recovered well post-lockdown with good performances in our online businesses throughout the first half,” said Ulrik Bengtsson, William Hill’s CEO. “The furlough scheme provided welcome and timely support and meant we could protect the jobs of our 7,000 UK retail colleagues. Therefore, given the strength of our recovery post-lockdown, we have decided to repay