The gambling giant William Hill (WMH.L) has seen its total revenues plummet by 57% during the coronavirus pandemic.
The betting company has seen its income hit hard by the closure of its branches and mass cancellation of sports events. Revenue dropped 85% in its shops between 11 March, before the lockdown began, and 28 April. Online revenue was down 33% in the UK.
But the company’s shares leapt more than 10% on the announcement, with some of the news still cheering investors.
It said the decline in online sports betting had been “less than anticipated.” Customers had flocked to alternatives when their favourite sports events had been scrapped, such as table tennis, emerging market football and gaming, the trading update on Friday said.
William Hill said it had also seen 5% growth online in the US, where it offers sports betting in four states. The company said it had “accelerated” product development in the US, and planned to launch its online casino later this year.
The company said it had taken “decisive action” to reduce costs and maintain cashflow, saying it had drawn down credit facilities and had more than £700m in unrestricted liquidity on 28 April.
Dividends have been suspended until further notice, “non-essential” capital spending has been deferred and a covenant waiver has been agreed with lenders.
“We have ensured that capital expenditure related to growth opportunities has been preserved, enabling us to press ahead with our plans to grow the US business and continue to develop our product,” it said.
The betting giant announced it planned a “staged reopening” of its branches in the second half of the year in the UK.
But it said every month of store closures was knocking £12-15m off its earnings, even with all its shop staff on furlough through the UK government job scheme. William Hill is topping up the 80% government subsidy to keep staff on full pay.