William Hill continues to make a significant contribution to the communities in which we operate both financially and in how we manage our wider footprint
Our economic footprint
William Hill is a significant generator of tax revenues. In 2019, we paid £352m in gambling duties, corporate tax and irrecoverable VAT, £19m in business rates and £27m in employeerelated taxes. Our total tax contribution as a Group, therefore, was £397m.
Globally, we employed c12,000 people as at the year-end, with the cost of employing, rewarding, training and developing our people totalling £423m.
In the UK, we have a significant high street presence through our 1,568 betting shops. In relation to these, we paid £31m in lease charges and £13m in business rates in 2019.
We also paid £91m in dividends to our shareholders and £39m in interest payments, predominantly to UK-based banks.
There is, and always has been, an intrinsic relationship between sport and betting. We support a wide range of sports through sponsorship agreements, levies for horseracing and greyhound racing, and payments to broadcast pictures from sporting events in our betting shops and online. In 2019, our payments in these areas amounted to £137m. We sponsored a wide range of sports and events, from boxing, cricket, darts, football and horseracing in the UK to football leagues in Spain and ice hockey in the US.
Throughout 2019, colleagues participated in fundraising activities for the Alzheimer’s Society, and other global charities addressing the disease. The William Hill Foundation (see below) ran its first ‘Forget Me Not’ Gala quiz evening in partnership with the charity, helping the event raise more than £82,000.
The Foundation partnered with the Scottish Football Association (SFA) to help deliver programmes supporting mental well-being. A ‘Support Within Sport’ initiative offers a confidential helpline and follow-up specialist treatment to those in Scottish football who may be suffering from mental health issues.
The Foundation also collaborated with the SFA to run a ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing League’ for men and women across Scotland. This gives those who may be struggling with mental health issues the opportunity to take part in physical exercise with 200 different players participating in 2019.
Additionally, by supporting the Haringey Box Cup for the 5th year running, we helped provide an opportunity to 250 young boxers to compete in the annual event at Alexandra Palace.
Climate change remains one of the greatest challenges of our time and every company has to play its part in minimising its environmental footprint. With operations across three continents, we have a real opportunity to make a positive impact in the areas in which we operate.
In comparison with other sectors, our impact on the environment is relatively low as our product is largely virtual. However, we do still have an impact, so our goal is to reduce our carbon footprint globally until we become a carbon neutral business.
In 2019, 85% of our carbon footprint was related to the electricity we consumed in our UK betting shops and offices. As we are expanding in larger physical sites in the US, and have a strategy to become a more international business, we are addressing not only our electricity consumption but also waste management, water usage and travel.
In February 2020, the Board approved an updated Environmental Policy and five-year strategy. This includes targets to divert 95% of our waste away from landfill and to increase adoption of technology-enabled meetings by 400%.
We intend to deliver significant reductions in the tonnes of CO2 equivalent (tCO2e) generated by the business and the intensity measure, which is the ratio of tCO2e to revenue.
In 2019, we further reduced our carbon footprint by 25%, which means we have reduced this overall by 42% over two years. Our tCO2e metric includes Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, including natural gas consumption, electricity consumption, refrigerant emissions and fuel from company cars. This included a full-year benefit of the LED lighting we installed in the betting shops in 2018 and the reduction in the UK Retail estate by nearly a third from October 2019, partially offset by the expansion of the US business into nine sports books and a new East Coast office, and the addition of the Malta hub for Online International. We have adopted high-quality, person-to-person video conferencing across the Group, in order to minimise global travel as we internationalise the business, and saw conferencing usage increase 50% during the year.
Since 2013, we have used an intensity measure, tonnes of CO2 equivalent per £1m of net revenue, to track our performance. In 2019, we saw a 23% decrease in this metric due to a material reduction in revenues generated by Retail following implementation of the £2 stake limit on gaming machines. We consider this a new baseline, given this material change, and aim to improve this KPI year-on-year from this revised level.
These data points were calculated using BEIS guidelines and conversion rates.