William Hill to permanently shut 119 betting shops in the UK. William Hill PLC has reported that due to the Covid-19 effect on the UK retail climate, it would not reopen 119 stores, as the bookmaker swung to an interim profit on a VAT refund.
The company said that it has made a “robust” recovery in the opening weeks of the second half because of the resumption of sporting activities and re-opening of shops. As a result, the company has decided to repay GBP24.5 million to the UK government received under the coronavirus job retention scheme.
The company reported pretax income of GBP141.1 million for the 26 weeks ended July 2, compared to a loss of GBP63.5 million a year earlier. The income figure includes a tax refund of GBP201.6 million, partly offset by non-cash intangible store impairment expense of GBP81.9 million.
Stripping out exceptional gains and charges, William Hill’s operating profit fell 85% year-on-year to GBP11.8 million, ahead of the company’s expectations.
Revenue from H1 2020 decreased from GBP811.7 million by 32 per cent to GBP554.4 million. The decline was attributed to sporting events and temporary closure of retail operations due to Covid-19 disruption, partly offset by favourable sporting results and resilient gaming performance.
“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,” Ulrik Bengtsson, Chief Executive Officer of William Hill, said.