UK bookmaker William Hill has cited two “substantial” loss-making weeks coming from a series of football results as one of the main reasons for a year-on-year drop in profit during the first three months of 2014.
The largest British company to place bet on sports in the UK reported that operating profit for the first quarter was down 14% on the same period of last year.
Retail profits suffered the most with a 25% drop while online operations also fell by 6%.
William Hill’s retail business was responsible for 57% of total group revenue, while online and Australian operations contributed 32% and 8% respectively.
Over-the-counter amounts place in shops increased 3% but underlying net revenue fell 4%, leading to an overall operating profit drop.
The bookmaker’s online business was boosted by a 39% increase in bets, but sportsbook net revenue for the quarter fell 7%. This was slightly offset by a 16% increase in online gaming and mobile betting net revenue.
Despite the losses Ralph Topping, chief executive officer of William Hill, remains optimistic about the rest of 2014 and expects business to be helped by this summer’s 2014 Fifa World Cup national football tournament.
Topping said: “Looking ahead to the rest of 2014, it is positive to note online had recouped much of its shortfall against internal expectations following week two before we were hit again in week 12.’’
He added: “While there is no guarantee we can make up the difference, we continue to believe the increased customer confidence from such wins should be good for business, especially in this World Cup year.’’
The figures come at the same time as William Hill announce their intentions to close over 100 of their UK betting shops due to poor performance.