William Hill lifted by online boost

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The Independent Online

Heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures last month failed to stop gamblers placing their bets, according to William Hill, which yesterday posted robust sales growth in its shops.

The company, which has more than 2,350 outlets in the UK and Ireland, said retail turnover grew by 4 per cent in December and 8 per cent in the fourth quarter despite the weather – which led to 47 per cent of scheduled UK horseracing meetings being cancelled and just one weekend of reduced football.

But the bookmaker said group revenues growth in the three months to 28 December was driven by online gambling and use of gaming machines in its shops.

William Hill said it expects full-year earnings to come in at the top end of expectations – with pre-exceptional underlying earnings of about £275m, up from £259m the previous year.

Shares in William Hill closed up 7 per cent at 189p.