Conor Gray: Boylesports ready for UK breakthrough

Speaking to The Sunday Times, Conor Gray Chief Executive of Boylesports has outlined the firm’s UK retail ambitions, as Ireland’s second-biggest bookmaker faces home market adjustments.

Operating 254 betting shops within Ireland, Gray reveals that the doubling of betting tax duties to 2% of gross turnover, ‘will whip €10 million off Boylesports bottom line’.

Facing a new Irish tax regime, Gray discloses that the 2% turnover tax has pushed 50 of its Irish shops into losses, with Boylesports considering a ‘programme of shop closures’, if the betting tax is not dropped.

Leading the Dundalk business, Gray states that the time is right to diversify Boylesports strategy, entering the saturated UK betting scene, having acquired the 13-shop retail network of Midlands independent bookmaker Wilf Gilbert this June.

Preparing to debut on Midlands highstreets, Gray now leads a long-term corporate ambition of Boylesports, which has pursued establishing a UK profile for the past decade.

For Gray, the Midlands represents ‘a toe in the door’, for Boylesports to move on developing its UK northern presence, underlining that the business will target a region where ‘there is a high concentration of independent bookmakers’, confident that Boylesports can acquire further effective retail sites.

Detailing confidence in Boylesports’ UK prospects, Gray highlights that the betting group will undertake the fastest operating adjustments to accommodate for the UK’s FOBTs £2 stake reductions, given that in Ireland, Boylesports has never had to rely on gaming machine income to prop up its retail revenues.

“We have no UK retail experience, but we have plenty of experience of UK retailers,” Gray tells The Sunday Times – “We compete with the ‘big green house’ (Paddy Power) and the ‘big red house’ (Ladbrokes). We know what they sell and how they sell.”

Supporting its UK growth strategy, Gray confirms that Boylesports executive team are actively seeking to acquire an online business, stating that ‘the odds [of doing a deal] are pretty short’.

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