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.
BoyleSports, Ireland’s second-largest bookmaker, will takeover William Hill’s 33 betting shops located throughout Northern Ireland, increasing its NI retail portfolio to 39 premises.
The sale sees William Hill governance continue its restructure of the firm’s retail betting division; during 2019, the FTSE bookmaker was forced to close 700 UK betting shops deemed financially non-viable to absorb the UK government’s FOBTs £2 stake reduction.
Whilst William Hill reduces its retail exposure, Irish counterpart BoyleSports has viewed FOBTs highstreet disruptions as the perfect storm in which to launch its UK profile.
During 2019, BoyleSports launched the initial phase of its UK expansion project by acquiring the small network of Midlands independent bookmaker Wilf Gilbert, establishing the Dundalk operator’s ‘Northern presence’.
BoyleSports Chief Executive Conor Gray underlined the buyout of William Hill’s NI retail portfolio as an important strategic step: “BoyleSports is delighted to realise its long-held ambition to develop a meaningful retail presence across Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man,” he said.
“Indeed, John Boyle opened the first-ever BoyleSports in Markethill, Co Armagh, Northern Ireland in 1982, so increasing our presence in Northern Ireland many years later is significant on many fronts.
“This acquisition complements our existing retail network in Northern Ireland and our retail network in the Republic of Ireland while also representing a significant step in our long-stated ambition to develop our retail footprint across the UK.”
Reaching its agreement, William Hill confirms that it has begun working with BoyleSports management on the transfer of the 33 shops and their 220 staff.
BoyleSports and William Hill governance have chosen not to disclose financial terms on their agreed sales arrangement.