The rebranding project of William Hill in Australia is underway with local media reports that Chief Executive Ralph Topping is keen on the Australian online betting brands of the bookmaker, Sportingbet-Centrebet and Tomwaterhouse.com, being brought under the umbrella of the William Hill brand.
Topping told The Australian Financial Review that Centrebet was a “secondary brand” and the similarly-sounding Sportingbet and Sportsbet, the latter being the Australian online bookmaker acquired by Paddy Power, could cause confusion among punters. The William Hill boss said he wanted to consolidate most of the businesses under the William Hill brand to take on what he described as “struggling” online operations of local companies such as Tatts Group and Tabcorp.
“You’ve got confusion of brands and you have to look for a unifying brand,” Topping said. “They’re all strong brands but I believe the strongest brand of the lot is potentially William Hill.” The UK bookmaker completed the acquisition of Tomwaterhouse.com in August and took over Sportingbet in March, which included its operations in the regulated markets of Spain and Australia, of which Centrebet was its main asset. The Waterhouse brand will remain until December 2015 as part of a potential AU$70m earn-out included in the takeover deal in August.
This latest move also brings into focus the fierce competition that is only going to increase between UK bookies’ Australian divisions in a regulated market worth some AU$26bn and comes after Ladbrokes’ AU$22.5m acquisition of local operator bookmaker.com.au.
The rebranding issue will be discussed at a board meeting in London next week, Topping said, and added that it would be a tough sell to go against the “personal preference” of the chief executive. With that in mind, there seems little doubt which way the decision is likely to go.