Last Tuesday, William Hill published a balance of its financial performance in recent weeks, which shows a strong recovery as a result of the relaxation of measures by COVID-19 and the return of sporting events. In addition, they highlight that now they have liquidity of more than £ 500 million and the vision of being able to generate positive numbers with operations during the second half of the year.
We share a summary of William Hill’s press release below:
We have been delighted to see a strong recovery in recent weeks with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and the progressive return of sporting events. Our swift actions have enabled us to respond competitively while enhancing customer protection and delivering against our product development goals. We expect the trading backdrop to remain uncertain but are encouraged to see both Online and the US performing ahead of our initial expectations.
Since our update on 15 May 2020 our monthly cash outflow has reduced and we have repaid the outstanding £203m on the 2020 bond. We now have unrestricted liquidity in excess of £500m and a line of sight to generating positive cash flow from our operations in the second half of the year.
On 20 May 2020 we announced that we expected a material refund of VAT which had been incorrectly applied to certain gaming machines. Following further engagement with HMRC and our legal advisors, we now expect this refund to be received in the second half of 2020 and for it to be roughly equivalent to the value of the bond repayment.
During the six weeks to 9 June 2020, Group total net revenue has improved following the steady recovery of the sports calendar, albeit behind closed doors.
Online sports wagers improved significantly throughout the period, benefitting from the resumption of horseracing and the German Bundesliga. During March and April customers continued to place bets on alternative products such as table tennis and we are pleased to note that activity has remained high alongside the return of horseracing and football. New product development launches continued to gain traction with a robust performance from the new gaming front end deployed in the UK.
Retail is ‘powering up’ the estate in phases now Licensed Betting Offices are permitted to re-open in England, coinciding with horse racing at Royal Ascot and the resumption of English football. We will be implementing measures to ensure social distancing requirements are adhered to, protecting our customers and colleagues. We will be opening the retail estate gradually, with a deliberate focus on those sites that we anticipate will have the most profitable footfall.
US sports staking benefitted significantly from the availability of alternative sports and the resumption of UFC and NASCAR in May. Although many casinos remained closed we operated drive-through sportsbooks in Nevada, a state where our customers must sign up in person to use the William Hill app. This initiative proved popular and generated considerable re-engagement online. Our tech teams continued to press ahead with development plans and we are on track to launch online gaming in New Jersey upon receipt of regulatory approval.
While we remain cognisant that sports betting activity and retail footfall are likely to remain uncertain throughout the rest of 2020 and into 2021, our mitigation strategies have reduced costs, retained liquidity and ensured that capital expenditure related to growth plans has been preserved. Our product development plans remain a priority, especially in the US, where they have accelerated to ensure we emerge from this period of disruption in a stronger competitive position.
Ulrik Bengtsson, CEO, commented:
“The return of sporting events has driven a strong recovery in our online volumes. Our UK Online business is in a better place than ever and our international business is displaying solid growth. In the US we have used this period of lockdown wisely to move our product forward and we are now in a strong position to capitalise on the US growth opportunity that lies ahead”.
For more details see full press release