Boylesports eyeing new international markets

Boylesports eyeing new international markets

By Geoff Percival

Boylesports expects to have a significant highstreet presence in the UK and an online offering in at least one emerging market within the next year.

Growth in the UK, where Boylesports already has an online presence, will likely be on a region-by-region basis largely concentrated on northern Britain. The move is likely to see the company acquire existing independent bookmakers chains, with it ultimately eyeing a portfolio of around 100 shops in any one region.

However, any deal will be reliant on the dust settling after an eventual final ruling on maximum betting stakes for fixed-odds betting terminals in UK shops.

A ruling, which could be made next month, is due to decide between £2 and £50 for maximum bets (€2.50 to €55); industry sources expecting a level around £15.

The smaller the amount will mean the higher the loss, from this big earner, will be for all players.

It could lead to numerous consolidation opportunities, particularly among the UK’s independent bookmakers.

The UK has been a long-held expansion target for the Dundalk, Co Louth-headquartered betting firm but the company is aiming for aggressive growth in the European online market, and beyond.

Boyle’s chief financial officer, Mark O’Neill, told the Irish Examiner said while markets such as Australia and the US are of no interest at present, mainland Europe, Asia and Africa are all under consideration.

He said either through cash reserves/ generation or lending potential the company has ample capacity to look at investing in growth opportunities in multiple markets simultaneously.

Boyle’s is currently debt free. “If we want to scale the business we have to look internationally. The UK will always be on our radar,” said Mr O’Neill.

Boylesports saw 20% revenue growth in its UK online business last year, beating the industry average, and Mr O’Neill said any retail expansion can feed off that existing brand awareness.

The company is a former shirt sponsor of Sunderland Football Club. It lost out in 2016 to Stan James and Betfred in its bid to buy more than 350 UK-based shops being offloaded to make way for the merger of Ladbrokes and Coral.

Mr O’Neill said that despite a preference for phased growth and a regional UK focus, the Ladbrokes experience, which reportedly saw Boyle’s bid more than what the shops eventually sold for, would not put the Irish company off looking at bigger deals if they should arise.

We’re happy to look at all opportunities and our target number of UK shops depends on what kind of opportunities arise.

The company has not yet reached saturation point in its Irish retail arm either despite a flurry of recent acquisitions, including the purchase of west of Ireland chain JP Bookmakers putting Boyle’s on the cusp of its long-standing target of 250 Irish shops.

In the last year the company has opened 40 outlets here and plans more, with the bulk of them likely to be through acquisition.

Last year saw Boylesports’ online revenues grow by 30%, but retail still managed a 10% improvement on 2016 levels.

Mr O'Neill said:

Retail isn’t dead and we will continue to invest in that side of the business.

He estimates that around 200 independent players remain in the Irish market.

More in this Section

Johnson insists EU free trade agreement can be struck amid no-deal Brexit fearsJohnson insists EU free trade agreement can be struck amid no-deal Brexit fears

IDA Ireland: Era of optimism with growth evident in all sectorsIDA Ireland: Era of optimism with growth evident in all sectors

Renault warning of slowing sales haunts rest of European car industryRenault warning of slowing sales haunts rest of European car industry

Flying Tiger retail stores back in the blackFlying Tiger retail stores back in the black


Lifestyle

These are the nail hues to choose this season, says Katie Wright.Perfectly polished: 5 autumn/winter nail trends you’ll actually want to wear

This early 19th-century table is one of a number of Irish lots at Sotheby’s Style, Furniture and Ceramics sale in New York on Thursday (October 24).Irish lots poised to add bite to Big Apple sale

Something for all at Hegarty’s auction in Bandon, says Des O’SullivanSomething for all at Hegarty’s auction in Bandon

Des O’Sullivan gives a preview of the Irish selection on offer at two sales in DublinPreview of the Irish selection on offer at two sales in Dublin

More From The Irish Examiner