William Hill to close 119 betting stores as virus pushes the bookmaker to £14.2m half-year loss
WILLIAM Hill is to shut another 119 high street betting shops after warning that in-store gambling will never recover to pre-crisis levels.
The FTSE 250 company took action after tumbling to a £14.2m underlying pre-tax loss for the six months to June, down from a £51m profit for the same period last year.
Revenues slumped by a third to £554m, while the bookmaker also suffered an £81.9m hit on the value of its retail estate.
However, bosses said that the group had seen a robust recovery since live sport restarted and its shops reopened, allowing it to pay back £24.5m of taxpayer cash claimed through the statefunded furlough scheme when staff were unable to work.
During lockdown, William Hill furloughed more than 7,000 staff across its 1,500 betting shops. William Hill said: “The group has been impacted by the global Covid-19 pandemic, which has led to the group taking the decision to not reopen a further 119 shops after lockdown restrictions were lifted in the UK and to increased uncertainty of future high street retail cash flows.”
The company said that only 16 jobs would be affected as more than 200 workers would be redeployed rather than laid off.
William Hill has 12,000 staff including 7,000 in Britain. Shares closed up 9pc at 127.6p.