William Hill is on track due to World Cup

Steve Dinneen
Follow Steve
Britain’s biggest bookmaker William Hill said it was on track to meet full-year expectations after reporting a one per cent rise in first half earnings.

Reflecting industry trends, the firm benefited from a major boost from the World Cup. The company, which operates over 2,300 betting shops in the UK and Ireland, said underlying profit rose to £135.6m compared with £134.6m the year before.

The average forecast for first half core profit had stood at £135.2m.

William Hill, which takes over 1m bets a day, said results in the football World Cup beat expectations, generating a gross win of £32.2m for the tournament, which it said was a good margin.

However, it also saw relatively poor horseracing results in the period with a comparatively weak Grand National in April followed by a loss making Royal Ascot festival.

The average forecast for full-year core profit stands at £258m.

Earlier in August, rival Ladbrokes reported a five per cent increase in first half operating profit as a boost to trading from the World Cup also offset unfavourable horseracing results, especially at June’s Royal Ascot meeting, where punters cleaned up.

Last month William Hill appointed Gareth Davis as its new chairman. Davis, who recently retired as chief executive of Imperial Tobacco, will take the helm next week.