William Hill appoints operations director as new CEO

Britain’s largest bookmaker William Hill has appointed its operations director James Henderson as chief executive, turning to an insider to see the group through a challenging period for the industry.

Henderson, who has been with the group for 29 years, will replace retiring chief executive Ralph Topping on August 1, who steps down after 44 years with the firm and six as CEO.

William Hill is a major employer in Yorkshire with 3,000 staff, including 1,300 in Leeds, who are led by Terry Pattinson, the group trading director. The city is home to William Hill’s retail, trading and IT operations.

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The leadership change comes at a time when the gambling sector is facing huge financial pressure as the Government is tightening controls on betting shops and high-stakes gambling machines.

William Hill has already announced the closure of 100 British betting shops this year, blaming a tax increase on high-stakes gambling from 20 per cent to 25 per cent.

“Whilst we face challenges as an industry, there are also plenty of opportunities to keep strengthening William Hill by further diversifying our revenues,” Henderson said in a statement.

Henderson, who joined 29 years ago as a trainee manager, will be paid a base salary of 550,000 pounds per year and will be eligible for the firm’s bonus plans.

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Topping was criticised by some shareholders last year for collecting a £1.2m retention bonus.

He will remain an employee of William Hill, claiming a yearly salary of £650,000 and providing advice to the board whilst serving his one-year notice period that started on July 3, the company said. He will also be considered for a bonus.