BoyleSports enters UK retail market with Wilf Gilbert acquisition

3 June 2019

Irish operator BoyleSports has made its long-awaited move into the UK retail betting market through the acquisition of Midlands-based bookmaker Wilf Gilbert.

The transaction, for an undisclosed fee, will see BoyleSports take charge of 13 Wilf Gilbert licensed betting offices across the West Midlands.

"With the purchase of the Wilf Gilbert group of shops we have realised our long-term goal to bring to the UK retail betting public the same quality of service and shops that BoyleSports' Irish retail customers have enjoyed for years,” BoyleSports chief executive Conor Gray said.

Wilf Gilbert’s outgoing owner-manager Graham Gilbert said it had been important to find a buyer that would retain its existing staff and provide customers with the best possible service.

“We are confident that we have found that company in BoyleSports,” Gilbert said. “Knowing what BoyleSports has achieved in the very competitive Irish market I feel they have to potential to transform retail betting in the UK.”

BoyleSports has had designs on the UK market for a number of years, and originally aimed to enter the market in the first quarter of 2019. However these plans were delayed with the company battling against taxes being doubled to 2% of turnover in its native Ireland.

As it has never operated fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs), it believes that it will be able to differentiate itself from UK rivals struggling with maximum stakes being cut to £2 from April - and be able to benefit from larger chains selling off shops.

"The FOBT stake-reduction legislation will radically change the UK's retail betting environment,” Gray said. “As a company that has never operated FOBTs we hope to help drive that change by transforming each of the shops within this group into world-class betting lounges with a wide variety of betting available on state-of-the-art screens and interactive terminals.

“The shops will have comfortable furniture, free refreshments and access to free wifi, and will provide a safe, regulated and enjoyable experience for both existing and new UK betting customers.”

The operator has already secured a retail gaming licence from the GB Gambling Commission to facilitate its UK launch, and aims to rapidly expand throughout the UK having gained a foothold in the market.

It is already in negations with a number of other chains, and is inviting regional bookmakers interested selling off shops to contact the business.

BoyleSports chief financial officer Mark O'Neill discusses the operator's plans for the UK retail market as part of iGamingBusiness.com's deep dive into the future of the UK retail betting market.