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888 to cut investment for non-core brands after market review

| By Zak Thomas-Akoo
Gaming operator 888 Holdings’ chief executive officer Itai Pazner has announced a review of the operator’s international brand strategy, warning that the business would reduce investment for brands with a lower potential in a market.

Pazner elaborated on the company’s long-term potential for growth in international markets in the wake of the acquisition of William Hill. This acquisition gives 888 control of three brands: 888, Mr Green and William Hill, in a number of markets.

The brand strategy will involve targeted investment in the brands that have the best growth potential depending on the market.

“We’re planning to take the best brands for each market, invest in them and then obviously reduce investments in brands that need to be rationalised and that have a lower potential in each market,” Pazner said.

“This gives us an opportunity to put our resources behind the most successful brands with the highest potential for growth in each market rather than investing in all brands and all markets.”

He added that efforts to reduce focus on less successful brands would begin in the fourth quarter of the year.

“The brand choices are being made now and will be rationalised already in Q4 this year. So just to give a simple example, 888sport in the UK is a challenger brand coming from a very low market share base.

“And if you take that and work that out between all of the different markets, we feel we have a better way to grow sports betting in all of those markets, focusing the marketing investment and the product investments in a road map into a single brand in each of the markets, while keeping the other brands, I would call them secondary or tactical or removing them all together from the market.”

888 had initially agreed in September 2021 to acquire the non-US business of William Hill. This came soon after US operator Caesars acquired the entire William Hill business for approximately £2.90bn, with the intent to dispose of all but its US assets.

Originally, the purchase price for the deal was £2.2bn. However, 888 and Caesars agreed to reduce the purchase price to acquire the assets by £250m, with the cash portion of the deal now set at £584.9m instead of £834.9m.

Pazner was speaking following the announcement of 888’s first-half financial results, in which revenue dropped by 13.1%, partly due to preemptive efforts to increase safer gambling controls in the UK ahead of the results of the Gambling Act review.

While this is 888’s largest market, the business has hopes for international expansion with launches in the US and Africa.

Since March, 888 has launched in Tanzania, Zambia, Kenya and Mozambique, with the business organised in the market under the 888bet brand with a focus on a sports betting vertical.

Another centrepiece of the company’s future growth strategy will be the relaunch in the Netherlands following its exit from the market in October last year. The company stated that it now expects the launch to occur in Q4 rather than Q3.

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