William Hill aims to grow Irish base

BRITISH bookmaker William Hill is aiming to drive growth in its Irish operations this year through a new online offering aimed at capitalising on a good performance in 2010.

The company — which as well as its core markets of Britain and Ireland, has operations in Austria, Spain and Italy — yesterday reported a 60% increase in full-year group pre-tax profits to £193.3 million (€226.2m), with after-tax profits up by 92% to £156m and net revenue rising by 7% to £1.07 billion. Operating profit was also up by 7% and basic adjusted earnings per share rose by 5% to 21.7p. The full-year dividend per share rose by 11% to 8.3p.

Revenue in William Hill’s high street retail division was up by 3%, while online revenue rose by 24%. Group chief executive, Ralph Topping, said that the company’s continuing investments in technology have underpinned its overall growth.

With regard to the company’s Irish division, last year, a spokesperson said that the online channel performed well and that each of the 51 shops here remain profitable (following the disposal of 20 loss-making outlets last year), albeit in “varying degrees”.

The company’s new Irish dedicated website is set to go live early next month, ahead of this year’s Cheltenham festival. The company — which has hired former Betdaq marketing manager, Michael Sheehan as its new Irish online chief — is planning to vigorously market the new site and is aiming to focus on the GAA market as its main niche with punters.

William Hill said that its remaining outlets in Ireland all have a future and no more closures are planned.

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