2016 was a tumultuous year for William Hill. Having seen a $24.3 million shortfall, it meant change was imminent, and in July last year, the board relieved CEO James Henderson. The board explained that their expectations were not met majorly blaming weak online betting performance. Philip Bowcock, the company’s finance chief was appointed as the interim chief executive to foresee proceedings until the board could appoint a new CEO.
Chairman Gareth Davis stated that the company was looking to appoint someone outside the company, a tech guru, a person who has been in the gambling industry for long, and one with overseas experience. However, after an eight-months search, the company has decided to end the hunt—and settle for Mr. Bowcock. Bowcock wasn’t even among the name in the shortlist because he lacked the qualities the company was looking for, but as it was confirmed this week, the best candidate was hiding in plain sight all along.
It is believed that the board decided to settle for MR. Bowcock after he successfully overcame some of the challenges the company has faced since his appointment as an interim boss. First, in August, he fed off an “unscrupulous” takeover attempt by 888 Holdings. Second, he also oversaw the company through after an embarrassing shareholder revolt that saw a subsequent proposed “merger of equals” between Amaya and William Hill fall through.
“Since his appointment as an interim CEO last year, Phillip has driven the company forward, at real pace, and progress is seen in the areas of international businesses, retail, and online,” said Davis in an official statement this week. It is believed that Mr. Bowcock is dedicated to getting William Hill’s “mojo back.” He says that he should be judged by the numbers he’s already achieved and ones he is looking to rack up in the coming years. He is hot in social media unlike the former CEO—which is just what the company needs right now. He really needs to take back the company to a place where it is expected to be and to do so he must ensure that the online segment is really performing dazzlingly.
What Mr. Bowcock should take advantage of is the fact that expectations are not very high. His predecessor Henderson already left a mess. Rivals are also experiencing the same challenges. This may just be his best card to use. So, if he can grab some of the lost market shares, and get the technology booming, he could win a race—or two!