Flutter Entertainment UK&I is rolling back the presence of its Paddy Power brand on the Irish high street, closing 21 betting shops at various locations across the country.
Following a review of the Paddy Power Irish retail estate, the FTSE100 gambling group has opted to allow some licences to expire whilst others have been terminated early.
Paddy Power, in the words of Chief Commercial Officer David Newton, had identified a number of ‘underforming shops’, although its full retail presence across the Republic of Ireland will remain extensive at 230 venues.
Newton explained: ““As with all businesses in the retail sector, we regularly review our estate to ensure we are operating efficiently and meeting the evolving needs of our customers.
“Indeed, a well invested retail estate remains a key component of our omnichannel strategy. Whilst the majority of our estate continues to perform well and is growing market share, we have decided to close a number of underperforming shops.”
Regarding employment, Paddy Power has noted that 78 staff members at the 21 venues will be affected but that it is working to ensure the bulk of shop workers are relocated to different shops, focusing on ones closest to their current location.
However, the firm has acknowledged that the closures ‘will lead to a small number of job losses’. The bookmaker stressed that it is “consulting closely with colleagues and providing support to those affected by these changes”.
In full, the 21 shops set to close their shutters include eight Dublin neighbourhoods and addresses – Terenure, Greenhills, Stoneybatter, Goatstown, Dalkey, Old Bawn, Parkgate Street and Blackrock.
The remaining 13 locations are at Dominick Street, Galway; Michael Street, Waterford; Westgate Road, Clonmel; Dillon’s Cross, Cork; Skibbereen, Cloghran, Kilkenny, Rathdrum, Templemore, Kells, New Ross, Athy and Ennis.
Newton continued: “This is absolutely no reflection on our hard-working shop colleagues, and I would like to thank them for their service and professionalism during this difficult time.
“We are in contact with all affected colleagues and our focus is very much on providing support to those who may be impacted by the changes.”
Flutter asserted that despite continuing challenges to the retail betting sector it remains committed to investing in its high-street presence, the bulk of which is tied to Paddy Power’s estate.
The remainder of the group’s holdings are distributed across online verticals, such as the Sky Bet and FanDuel online sportsbooks – focusing in the UK&I and US respectively – Betfair exchange and PokerStars igaming brand.
According to Flutter’s Q2 earnings call, UK and Irish retail registered continued momentum, with revenue from these markets – albeit from both retail and online sources – growing 13% year-on-year to £1.2bn.
The closure of the 21 Paddy Power outlets does also come at a time of change for Irish betting in general. The country’s Gambling Regulation Bill is currently in the Fourth Stage Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas legislature.
As Ireland’s largest gambling group, Flutter has been welcoming of forthcoming regulatory changes, however, with Group CEO Peter Jackson welcoming changes such as the introduction of a new regulator, the Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA).