| 14°C Belfast

William Hill to close 119 betting shops – but only 12 jobs at risk

Revenue dropped by a third in the first six months of 2020.

Close

William Hill will have around 1,440 shops left around the UK (Mike Egerton/PA)

William Hill will have around 1,440 shops left around the UK (Mike Egerton/PA)

William Hill will have around 1,440 shops left around the UK (Mike Egerton/PA)

Betting giant William Hill is closing 119 stores, but will protect almost all of the jobs, as it said it does not think customers will come back in the same numbers as before the pandemic.

Only about 12 people are likely to lose their jobs of the approximately 200 to 250 employees who work there, boss Ulrik Bengtsson said in a call with reporters.

The company has identified all of the 119 stores that are slated for closure, the chief executive said.

It leaves William Hill with around 1,440 betting shops across the UK.

William Hill said that its betting shops had seen encouraging progress last month as they opened again last week after months of lockdown.

“The business has traded well since mainstream sport resumed and our UK shops have re-opened and we are encouraged by the early indications,” the firm said in a statement to shareholders on Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile its online arm has kept up its strong momentum, and made “good progress” in the UK in July after a “robust” first half of the year, it said.

The company swung to a pre-tax profit of £141 million in the first half of the year, a swing from a loss of £63 million. Revenue was £554 million, down by a third.

However, when stripping out some factors, the company’s adjusted pre-tax loss £4.2 million from a £50.8 million profit the year before.

William Hill’s online operations had “produced a solid outcome with limited sports content”.

Sport has now returned to the US, despite there being signs of a second wave of coronavirus hitting the country, Mr Bengtsson said.

In a statement to shareholders, he added: “I am delighted with William Hill’s performance in these extraordinary times.

“Our team has been remarkable, supporting each other and our customers throughout the pandemic, and I would like to thank them for their continuing efforts.

“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 the furlough funds.”

PA