Boylesports to buy more betting shop chains in Ireland and the UK

Boylesports to buy more betting shop chains in Ireland and the UK

Boylesports is set to swoop for more independent Irish betting shop chains and is close to completing its second acquisition in the UK.

The Dundalk-based bookmaker recently agreed to snap up the final five Galway-based betting shops owned by local company Mulholland Bookmakers.

That deal will bring to around 260 - a longstanding company target - the number of shops Boyle's owns in the Republic.

This year's doubling in tax - to 2% - on Irish bookmakers' turnovers is expected to force more smaller independent chains to consolidate in order to survive.

To that extent, it is viewed, within the company, as being inevitable that Boylesports will move to buy more chains in order to bolster its Irish shop numbers.

Its main Irish retail rival, Paddy Power has already said that it will likely take a £20m (€22m) hit to 2019 earnings from the Irish betting tax hike, which was introduced by the Government as a budget measure earlier this year and which could be amended further in next year's budget.

Meanwhile, Boylesports is understood to be closing in on its second UK betting shop chain acquisition. The company acquired the Wilf Gilbert chain of 13 betting shops in the Birmingham area in June and has just completed rebranding them.

Boyle's second UK acquisition - an unnamed chain, again located around the Birmingham area - is expected to be completed in the coming weeks. That purchase will push its UK shop numbers to more than 20.

Boylesports is using the midlands as its foundation for UK growth and has signed up as shirt sponsor with Birmingham City Football Club.

Its last such deal, which came to an end after three seasons in 2010, was with Sunderland FC when that club was under Irish ownership.

The company is understood to be in early-stage talks with a number of other UK-based bookmaker chains.

Boylesports has publicly said that it hopes to have around 100 betting shops operating in the UK market in the next 12 months.

The betting firm's immediate expansion ambitions are solely focused on its retail businesses in Ireland and the UK.

Revenues at its UK online business have grown in recent years and the company sees its retail business benefiting from that brand awareness.

The near-term geographic focus also seems to have relegated the importance of previously suggested growth targets - including launching an online service in at least one emerging market before an aggressive online roll-out in Europe, Asia and parts of Africa.

Boylesports has been eyeing an on-street retail presence in Britain for some time.

In 2016 it lost out to UK firms 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.

While looking to grow gradually, now.

Boylesports has said it remains "opportunistic" surrounding growth opportunities in the UK.

Recent financial results from Paddy Power-owner Flutter showed the challenges in the retail betting market.

The company's retail sales - covering its shops in Ireland and Britain - fell by 4% in the first half of this year, largely due to the effect of mandatory lower stake allowances on in-store betting terminals in the UK.

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