Belfast Telegraph

William Hill boss steps down after profit warnings and sliding sales

The boss of betting giant William Hill is stepping down after the firm was hit by profit warnings and sliding sales under his tenure.

Chief executive James Henderson leaves the business immediately after just two years in charge , with chief financial officer Philip Bowcock taking the helm until a permanent CEO is appointed.

Shares in the company were up 10% on the news.

It comes after it announced in May that net revenues tumbled 3% and online sales fell 11% in the first quarter as the firm took a hit from punters cashing in on bets on Cheltenham and the European football.

It follows a profit warning in March, when the UK's largest bookie said dire horse racing results at the Cheltenham festival and high-value internet gamblers imposing restrictions on their own betting would lower full-year trading.

Chairman Gareth Davies said: "James's career with William Hill has spanned over 30 years covering the retail, online and international businesses.

"We would like to thank him for his significant contribution and we wish him all the best for the future. Philip has a clear set of priorities as interim CEO, principally the continued turnaround of the online business. We will confirm a successor in the coming months."

William Hill reiterated that it expects operating profit for 2016 to fall to between £260 million and £280 million, compared to £291 million last year.

In 2015, the company was forced to stomach almost £90 million of new online and gaming machine levies.

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: "Shares in the bookmaker had fallen nearly 20% during (Mr Henderson's) two-year tenure as earnings came under pressure from higher taxes and increased competition. Finance boss Philip Bowcock takes over as interim CEO.

"He previously did a great job as chief financial officer at Cineworld, although William Hill shareholders may wish to ignore his time at nightclub operator Luminar. That job proved to be a bad bet as the business went into administration a year after he joined."