Irish betting group says bricks and mortar presence helps bolster online sales in Britain
Irish betting group BoyleSports has kicked off a significant expansion of its retail betting network in Britain, with plans to open 20 new stores.
BoyleSports already has 25 stores in Britain, opening four last month.
The Sunday Independent has learned that the Louth-headquartered firm is close to opening two more new outlets, with a further 18 “going through the process” and expected to open by the end of the year.
Mark O’Neill, the chief financial officer of BoyleSports, said the “vast majority” of the new outlets would be in the English midlands. He added the plans were “substantial” and would bolster the brand online.
“We firmly believe in retail, particularly in Great Britain,” he said. “We have seen the retail expansion complement our online business in the UK.
“We are not just a bricks and mortar company; we see this as part of an overall strategy for growth in our online business as well.
“We can see that our midlands business has, since we opened shops, outperformed the rest of our Great Britain business in terms of digital online growth, which is really comforting and gives us confidence that what we are doing not only benefits retail, but also online.”
O’Neill said the new store openings were part of BoyleSports’ overall strategy to open stores organically without relying on making acquisitions.
“We are still in the market for acquisitions,” he added. “But in the meantime, we believe there are lots of opportunities in retail in Great Britain, and we will continue along that investment path.”
According to O’Neill, each shop creates the equivalent of six full-time jobs.
He added that an average shop costs around £200,000 (€234,000) to fit-out, construct and get open, meaning the 20 new shops could represent a £4m investment.
O’Neill has high hopes for the stores.
“We are very optimistic about the new stores,” he said.
“We go through a fairly rigorous selection programme with our property and development team in the UK with a full business case, financial planning and analysis, as well as location selection.
“We are very confident in the success of all the locations we go into.”
BoyleSports, established by John Boyle in 1989, has over 340 shops across the UK and Ireland, including 45 stores in Northern Ireland and two on the Isle of Man. The company employs around 2,500 staff.
In 2019, BoyleSports entered the English midlands market by acquiring 13 stores from independent bookmaker Wilf Gilbert.
That same year, it acquired 18-stores through its purchase of Irish operator Bruce Betting.
The following year, BoyleSports paid an estimated €18m for 33 William Hill betting shops in Northern Ireland.