Boylesports on acquisition trail for up to 40 new Irish outlets
Deals to help it compete with larger rivals would be funded from existing resources, writes Gavin McLoughlin
Bookmaker Boylesports hopes to add as many as 40 stores to its Irish network in the next 12-18 months as it seeks to compete with larger rivals.
Chief financial officer Mark O'Neill told the Sunday Independent that deal-hungry Boylesports was "open for business on the acquisition trail".
Earlier this month, Boyle agreed to acquire nine stores from Bambury Leinster which - if approved by regulators - would give it 219 stores on the island of Ireland.
"We're a growth organisation. We have to be with some of the big plcs in our industry, and we're ready and willing to look at any opportunities that we can pick up. If we could get another 30 or 40 stories in Ireland over the next 12-18 months, that would be the stated aim, and we can then bring them into our network," O'Neill said.
"We'd fund that directly through our own internal resources. We're a family-owned business - John Boyle's been in business for many years and has built up a strong business - and we're in a position where if opportunities come our way, we're able to act on them quickly."
O'Neill said Boylesports would be interested in the Irish operations of the newly formed Ladbrokes-Coral if an opportunity arose. Prior to the British firms' merger, Boyle failed in a bid to take over Ladbrokes' Irish arm.
"Should an opportunity present itself again, we'd absolutely look at it in the context of growing our business and our estate in Ireland," O'Neill said. The company was also unsuccessful in a bid to acquire British shops that Ladbrokes and Coral had to sell for competition reasons after agreeing their tie-up. O'Neill said Boylesports - which has recently renewed its sponsorship of RTE's racing coverage for another year - was now focused on regional acquisition opportunities in Britain.
"Major opportunities like the one with Ladbrokes and Coral don't come around too often. If we were able to pick up 15 or 20 shops in some regional locations around some of the bigger cities and build our brand profile, that would be the strategy for now.
"You've got four really big brands which cover a significant portion of the market - none of them are going to come on the market any time soon - so you need to look at the next layer down. And the next layer down would be regional independent players that maybe have chains around some of the bigger cities," O'Neill said.
"We're looking at opportunities all the time to pick up, let's say, smaller chains in the UK where we could then put the Boylesports brand on the high street in the UK and use that as a stepping stone then to further grow our online business as well as our retail business," he added.
He said Boylesports wanted to become "a challenger brand" to bigger companies that had "maybe drifted away" from pure over-the-counter betting.
Sunday Indo Business