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New 888 CEO Per Widerström has wielded the axe by implementing a global cost savings programme of £30m.

The strategy was initiated in December 2023, just two months after Widerström officially took charge of the London-listed bookmaker.

The initiative will dovetail with 888’s decision to strengthen in areas such as intelligent automation and AI-powered data and insights, according to a post-close trading update.

The cost savings should allow for an increase in marketing spend in 2024, with 888 targeting stronger returns through a more effective customer and product lifecycle management plan.

888 said that significant costs relating to compliance and safer gambling procedures should begin to annualise in February 2024, triggering a more positive outlook.

“There are clear opportunities to unlock our significant potential, but as a business we know that going forward we must be more proactive in adapting to changes in regulation and technology,” said CEO Widerström.

“We are now taking rapid actions to position the group for future success, reducing our overhead costs and freeing up funds to invest in growth based upon our new strategy and value creation plan.

“The financial performance of the group must improve, and the actions we are taking will build a leaner, more agile, and more effective organisation structure, as well as establishing a more effective management of the customer and product life cycle.

“These plans support material value creation and significantly higher profits over the coming years,” he added.

The cost-saving measures are expected to enhance long-term profitability. However, the initial investment means 888 is guiding to 2024 adjusted EBITDA at the low end of consensus range, which is £340m.

The operator expects to provide further details on its strategic plans, including new financial targets, at its full year results announcement on 26 March 2024.

New senior leadership team

Widerström has spent the last three months assembling an executive team to steer the company back to growth following an 8% decline in full-year 2023 revenue.

Sean Wilkins has arrived as CFO and will start on 1 February, while Rik Barker, who is ex-Flutter, has been appointed chief information and technology officer, commencing 5 February.

In addition, Jeffrey Haas was recruited this month as chief growth officer, having previously held senior roles with DraftKings, bwin.party and PokerStars.

Ian Gallagher (CPO) and Fredrik Ekdahl (group general counsel) were both brought into the business towards the back end of last year, while Vaughan Lewis will continue in his role as chief strategy officer.

Commenting on the executive overhaul, Russel Pointon, director of consumer at Edison Group, said: “The market awaits details on the evolved strategic plans, to be revealed in March. 

“Shareholders will be hopeful that the upturn in active players will continue into 2024 but slightly less welcome is that management has indicated that profits for the coming year will be at the low end of consensus expectations. 

“Time will show if the new leadership, including key appointments to the executive team, will unlock the company’s significant potential, which has been noted by analysts and competitors alike with news of DraftKings and Playtech rumoured to have considered a bid for 888 last year,” he added.

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