British bookmakers William Hill will repay the government £24 million for any furlough payments it has received during the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.
In April 2020, the organisation placed 7,000 employees on the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) after lockdown restrictions forced it to close all of its branches.
As well as paying back the hefty bill, William Hill is also forgoing any payments under the CJRS bonus scheme. This is a bold move considering the organisation’s net revenue is down by 32%. However, in light of the opening UK retail stores in July 2020, the business is optimistic about the future.
However, the business has not come out of this unscathed and plans to close 119 shops permanently to adapt to the impact of Coronavirus on the UK retail environment.
Ulrik Bengtsson, chief executive at William Hill, said: “We have clear proof that our strategy of focusing on customer, team and execution is working. Our trading was strong before Coronavirus, we controlled costs effectively during the lockdown and we have recovered well post-lockdown with good performances in our online businesses throughout the first half.
“The furlough scheme provided a welcome and timely support and meant we could protect the jobs of our 7,000 UK retail colleagues. Therefore, given the strength of our recovery post-lockdown, we have decided to repay the furlough funds.”