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William Hill says 119 of its High Street betting shops will not re-open after the shutdown forced by the coronavirus outbreak.

The company, which has 1,500 UK outlets, said it did not expect customers to return in the numbers seen before the Covid-19 pandemic.

The news came as it posted profits of £141m for the first six months of 2020, compared with a loss of £63m last year.

It also said it would repay £24.5m received from the UK furlough scheme.

The business did not say how many jobs were affected by the shop closures but said “the majority of colleagues [would be] redeployed within the estate”.

Chief executive Ulrik Bengtsson said: “I am delighted with William Hill’s performance in these extraordinary times. Our team has been remarkable, supporting each other and our customers throughout the pandemic, and I would like to thank them for their continuing efforts.

“The furlough scheme provided welcome and timely support, and meant we could protect the jobs of our 7,000 UK retail colleagues. Therefore, given the strength of our recovery post-lockdown, we have decided to repay the furlough funds.”

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