888 to undergo makeover and become Evoke after disappointing year

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888 Holdings is set for a rebrand as the company reveals its new identity will be Evoke Plc.

The name change is part of a wider Value Creation Plan (VCP) that was published alongside the operator’s full-year accounts for 2023 this week.

The group reported corporate revenue of £1.71 billion ($2.16 billion), up 38% year-over-year. However, on a pro forma basis, 888’s revenue results saw a 7.5% decline on the £1.85 billion ($2.34 billion) recorded in 2022. In terms of international performance, revenue rose slightly by 1.8%.

“We are under no illusions that this financial performance has been disappointing,” said CFO Sean Wilkins at the company’s earnings call on Tuesday.

The VCP, which will be spearheaded by CEO Per Widerström, is a new strategic framework that the company says it is adopting to “establish a clear vision of what success looks like and the strategy to get there.”

Widerström will lead a new executive leadership team that will be tasked with executing a “group operating model reset, removing duplication and inefficiencies while enhancing accountability, as well as delivering approximately £30 million ($39 million) of additional annual cost savings.”

The proposed change in business name to Evoke Plc is one of the headline initiatives within the VCP. The rebrand has been recommended as a way to “better reflect the strength of the group’s multi-brand operating model” and the name change will be put forward to investors at the company’s 2024 AGM.

Other key strategies include 888 simplifying its reporting categories into Core Markets (U.K., Italy, Spain and Denmark) and optimizing markets.

The report also set out the VCP’s medium-term targets which include delivering revenue growth of 5-9% per year and targeting an adjusted EBITDA margin of 100 basis points.

“It is incredibly exciting to announce our Value Creation Plan, our strategy for success, our new financial targets, and our new corporate identity,” commented Widerström. “We have acted with pace, decisiveness, and urgency to build a clear strategy to deliver success. We are now clear on what success looks like, we have the team and capabilities to deliver, and I am confident that the execution of our plan will deliver a high return on equity from sustainable profitable growth, enhanced by deleveraging.”

888 to end Sports Illustrated partnership as part of U.S. exit

Previous to the publication of its full-year earnings for 2023, 888 notified its investors that it was planning a strategic review of its U.S. B2C operation which included parting ways with Authentic Brand Group, which owns Sports Illustrated (SI), and ending the joint venture that launched SI Sportsbook and Casino.

The move is part of its cost-cutting strategy and it believes that terminating the partnership will save 888 $6 to $7 million in 2024 and 2025. There will be significant costs involved as the company has agreed to pay a total of $50 million in termination fees.

“Since commencing my role as CEO I have been focused on ensuring the group is set up to deliver strong value creation in the coming years,” added Widerström at the time of the announcement. “In the U.S., the intensity of competition and requirement for scale means huge investment is required to reach profitability. We have concluded that achieving sufficient scale in the US market to generate positive returns within an accelerated time frame is unlikely.”