* Operating profit falls 10 percent
* New chief executive to be named in coming weeks
* Plans 40 million pound cost-cutting programme
(Recasts, adds shares, quotes from Chairman)
Feb 24 British bookmaker William Hill Plc
said it was set to name a new chief executive shortly
and expected a stronger performance in 2017 after operating
profit fell by 10 percent last year.
The betting chain has been without a permanent chief
executive since losing patience with James Henderson last July
because he was failing to deliver enough growth in online and
The Financial Times reported this week that interim CEO
Philip Bowcock was poised to be confirmed in the role.
"I am pleased to say that we are now entering the final
stages and expect to complete an announcement in a few weeks’
time," Chairman Gareth Davis said on the search process for a
new CEO. He did not comment on whether former finance director
Bowcock was in line for the job.
William Hill has also missed out on a round of mergers in
the sector which has created stronger competitors as European
rivals Paddy Power and Betfair joined forces, while
Ladbrokes merged with Gala Coral.
Operating profit last year fell to 261.5 million pounds
($328.2 million) from 291.4 million, as challenging trading
conditions and unfavourable soccer and Cheltenham horse racing
festival results took their toll.
The earnings were in line with the company's guidance from
January and it pointed to a brighter 2017, helping to support
its shares which traded 1 percent higher by 0910 GMT.
"With a clear strategy in place and strong indications that
online is returning to sustained growth, we are confident of
William Hill's ability to deliver a stronger performance in
2017, subject to normalised gross win margins in the period,"
the company said.
The bookmaker added that it was looking to increase
efficiencies through a cost-cutting programme that would free up
40 million pounds of capital for reinvestment.
($1 = 0.7969 pounds)
(Reporting by Rahul B in Bengaluru; editing by David Clarke and