roup operating profit was down 22% in the period, and 3% on the year which chief executive Ralph Topping put down to the impact of last year's football World Cup results and “the planned significant increase in Online investment”.
'We have delivered a solid performance in Q3, in spite of a highly competitive market place and a tough consumer environment. We continue to invest in product, pricing and innovation, bringing customers the best high street and online betting and gaming experience.” said Topping.
'Pleasingly, Online net revenue growth accelerated in the quarter, as did underlying amounts staked over-the-counter in Retail, and our long-term track record of growth in machines continued in Q3. Internationally, the initial performance of William Hill Online's new Italian casino website is beating expectations having taken around 8-9% market share and we are the most successful of the non-domestic new entrants”, he added.
Topping continued saying that the third quarter margin was broadly in line with their long-term average for this quarter but is below the unusually high margin seen in Q3 2010, driven up by football results. And pointed that accordingly, Group profits are lower year-on-year, primarily as a result of this and the planned significant increase in Online investment.
“With our leading brand, strong technology, differentiated products and understanding of our consumer, we have a unique opportunity right now to invest to take market share. In the UK, we will be trialling second-generation Storm gaming machines, new self-service betting terminals and high-definition video walls in the shops before the end of the year. Across Europe, we are now investing in a highly focused way in key territories such as Italy and Spain for the long-term benefit of the business.”, he concluded.