BoyleSports acquires William Hill stores in Northern Ireland

Marco Green
January 13, 2020

BoyleSports, which was founded in Markethill, Co Armagh by John Boyle, has been on the acquisition trail for some time but this is it largest acquisition to date.

Irish bookmaker BoyleSports is set to significantly expand its Northern Ireland retail footprint after agreeing to acquire William Hill's entire NI betting shop portfolio.

William Hill said in November that it was "on track" following the closure of 700 high street shops, which it said would mitigate the impact of changes to FOBT rules.

United Kingdom betting shops generated more than the projected £50mln-£70mln operating profit thanks mainly to the favourable sports results, Hills said in a pre-close statement that was brought forward from Thursday.

William Hill is already working with the management of BoyleSports to begin the transfer process of the shops and their 220 staff members.

During 2019, BoyleSports launched the initial phase of its United Kingdom expansion project by acquiring the small network of Midlands independent bookmaker Wilf Gilbert, establishing the Dundalk operator's "Northern presence".

BoyleSports plans to have 100 betting shops across the United Kingdom by the end of 2020.

The acquisition of the new Northern Ireland outlets is immediate, but BoyleSports will take over operational duties at the new outlets from next month.

The financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed.

Conor Gray, chief executive of BoyleSports, used news of the acquisition to criticise the Irish Government's decision in Budget 2019 in increase betting tax.

William Hill is now undergoing a significant restructuring of its retail betting operations. The previous max stake was £100 ($130), with the machines generating significant revenue for the betting shops as a result.

William Hill's full-year adjusted operating profit for 2019 is expected to be in the range of £143m ($185.4m) to £148m.

The gambling giant said this helped to boost its retail division and increase total group profits.

Company officials are satisfied with the "good progress" made in view of the challenging regulatory environment it has been operating in.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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