William Hill

William Hill is one of the UK’s largest bookmakers, and is consolidating to strengthen its brand in Australia. (Image: WillHill)

William Hill Australia is consolidating its sports betting operations Down Under by replacing the Sportingbet, Centrebet and Tom Waterhouse brands with one unifying Will Hill banner.

The leading UK betting firm is the parent company to the three Australian betting rooms, but all three will come under the William Hill moniker in a move starting this year.

Sportingbet will be first to take on the new branding, with Centrebet to follow later in 2015.

Tom Waterhouse is likely to be wound up altogether by 2016.

William Hill’s 2012 £469.4m (AUD660million) takeover of the Aussie firms, which also included an option on Sportingbet’s Spanish operation.

At the time it was seen as a move by the firm to expand worldwide, particularly with Australia’s gambling market judged to be so big.

William Hill offers legal real-money betting online in Australia under a licence provided by the Northern Territory Government.

Waterhouse Leads Australian Operations

Tom Waterhouse, the Chief Executive of Will Hill’s Aussie operations, and whom the last of that trio of companies is named, was reported saying in the Sydney Morning Herald:

“There’s been a whole bunch of things to get right before we could say now is time to hit the go button.

“To be at that stage and to be going down the path of being able to launch the brand here [in Australia] is terrific, it’s really exciting.”

Waterhouse was appointed to the top post last year, allowing the firm’s head office to push through the consolidation plan.

Global Brand To Lead in Australia

The timing of William Hill’s Australian rebrand couldn’t have come at a better time.

Sportingbet itself should move over in time for the start of the rugby league season, while one of the busiest times of the year for the betting industry, the Autumn Racing Carnival, will start just after Sportingbet switches.

Together with the rebrand, William Hill is set to invest a further $10 million in its marketing budget to build consumer awareness.

It remains to be seen how the firm’s rivals in Oz, such as Ladbrokes, TABCorp and PaddyPower, will respond, but 2015 is shaping up to be a battleground for online bookmakers in Australia.

2014 saw something of a management shake-up at William Hill in Australia.

Sportingbet and Centrebet’s former CEO and COO, respectively, Michael Sullivan and Anthony Waller, left the company.

Shares Fall Despite Profits

William Hill’s consolidation Down Under deflects news of a share slump this month. Just this week, William Hill’s share price dipped 5.5 percent despite the firm recording year-on-year profits of £371 million (AUD683 million).

The revenue marked a jump of 8 percent, although the betting giant’s online wing accounted for the biggest rise of 18 percent.

Speaking in the UK business newspaper, City AM, William Hill Chief Executive, James Henderson, said:

“Overall it’s been a good performance in 2014 for the Group, driven by both the continued development of our UK-facing operations and our international diversification, together with a successful [FIFA] World Cup. On a full-year basis, operating profit from online, William Hill Australia and William Hill US all continued to grow very strongly and Retail delivered another resilient performance, benefiting from effective cost control.

“In Q4, generally weaker sporting results in December impacted our revenue progression, as did a very tough November comparative, but gaming continued to grow.”

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