The small and sleepy Anglo-Welsh border town of Ross-on-Wye gained a new resident during the summer, as BoyleSports’ nationwide expansion of its betting shop operation hit the local high-street.
Providing an update on the firm’s roadmap – which has since seen another location opened in Wigan – and its progress in the West Midlands town, Lee Otter, BoyleSports’ Director of Property and Development, outlined local considerations, the importance of customer service and ongoing trends in UK retail betting.
SBC: Congratulations on the shop opening in Ross-on-Wye – were there any reasons in particular why this location was chosen? Do small towns like this pose any operational benefits that large cities lack?
Lee Otter: We select locations following extensive assessment of the location, the wider area and the current offering in terms of retail betting shops. Where we identify a gap in the market for a good quality independent bookmaker and there is a healthy betting market, we look to secure the right unit in the right pitch to cater for that demand.
Smaller towns like Ross-on-Wye, which also has a large rural catchment and a seasonal tourist trade, have a more stable and less transient customer base, which often city centres, by their very nature don’t have. That’s not to say that you won’t see a BoyleSports in a large town, or city centre, but the commercial considerations are different.
SBC: How are you ensuring that you stand out from any established competitors in the town?
LO: We always seek to provide customers with what they want, whether that is in terms of great physical surroundings (large gantry, comfortable furnishings, café area, etc.) or our innovative trading package with competitive offers (both as standard and daily/event specific enhancements, etc.) or our friendly staff and pride in customer service.
We believe that it is a combination of all that we offer that differentiates us from other operators, who often respond by upgrading their shops, or improving their trading package, once we open our doors.
SBC: Are there any marketing measures you have/are using to raise awareness of your new offering in the area or are you putting faith in the recognisability of the BoyleSports brand?
LO: The best marketing is new customers seeing and experiencing what we provide, they tell others and word of mouth generates a buzz and further interest from other prospective customers.
In addition, our local management teams run local promotions and look to get customers across the threshold, where the three elements mentioned earlier (quality of physical environment, innovative trading package and great customer experience) ensure that they return and become the regulars that we want to see time and time again.
SBC: The Premier League is now back in full swing and the World Cup is coming up later this year. Are you anticipating any increase in interest in retail betting because of this?
LO: As with all large tournaments and sporting events, we will provide a comprehensive and exciting package of odds and offers for all our customers, retail and online. Inevitably, we will see more customers and we hope to see those customers who only have a flutter on events like the World Cup come and take advantage of what we offer in our retail shops.
SBC: Have you seen any uptake in retail activity among bettors who had previously bet online (especially during lockdowns)?
LO: It is difficult to say whether there has been a cross-over of online customers to retail, or whether it is simply retail customers who are returning to the way that they prefer to bet and enjoy the retail environment.
Similar to other operators, we have seen a bounce back since the lockdowns have ended and we hope and expect that this continues, particularly in those local shops that serve the local communities so well.
An in depth interview with Lee Otter covering retail keys to success and why BoyleSports’ maintains faith in bricks and mortar will be published in SBC Leaders Magazine Issue 22 later this month.