Sky Bet: London competition poses threat to Yorkshire vacancies

Sky Betting and Gaming has revealed that it has more than 300 vacancies available as it prepares to open its new headquarters in Leeds, West Yorkshire, in September.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Post, Conor Grant, CEO of Flutter Entertainment’s UK and Ireland divisions, informed the outlet about the multiple vacancies available at Sky Bet, recognised as Yorkshire’s top tech and software employer

However, competing against all sector’s to secure tech talent, Grant noted concerns of a ‘live threat’ posed to the operator’s employee recruitment and retention strategy by London-based tech firms.

These companies, the CEO argued, offer higher London-rate wages as well as a greater possibility of remote working for their employees, increasing competition with Sky Bet when attracting new joinees. 

“We have worked really hard over the last six or seven years to build a culture and an identity for this business, particularly as a tech business,” he remarked. “That has reaped huge benefits for the business. But we have a threat to it and we now need to look at how we can tackle this. 

“It is something definitely that we are concerned about. But for us Leeds is going to continue to be a huge destination for us. It is a flagship for the UK. We have got to be creative about how we meet the needs of our current employees and prospective employees. There is a very live threat to us and we need to be mindful of it.”

The revelation comes as Sky Bet moves ahead with its preparations for its ‘post-COVID world’ office development, which will see 266 work desks placed two-metres apart, whilst as part of a ‘hybrid working strategy’ the building will be divided into ‘neighbourhoods’, with between eight and 16 meeting rooms per floor.

Its new development at 4 Wellington Place in the heart of Leeds will establish its position as one of the city’s largest employers with over 1,400 employees.

However, despite the recruitment concerns, Grant described Sky Bet as ‘hugely important’ for the FTSE 100 gambling group, and noted that the entire company had been ‘taking learnings’ from its operations.

He went on to highlight Sky Bet’s status as the largest market operator in terms of volume and number two position regarding market revenue, adding that the firm is ‘probably pushing very close to being number one’.

As with many other betting operators, Flutter has been pursuing an active consolidation and M&A strategy in recent years, notably acquiring The Stars Group (TSG) in 2018 – which at the time was the parent company of Sky Bet – and attributed the successful integration of Sky Bet, PokerStars and Sportsbet to its 2020 trading success.

However, these consolidation trends are unlikely to continue according to Grant, who stated that the process had reached its peak, arguing that ‘there are not many deals left to make’.

Instead, he continued to see a bright future for the betting industry’s retail sector, having been in Yorkshire to visit the Leeds branches of Paddy Power’s high-street bookmaker outlets.

Although retail has been hard hit by the pandemic, with betting shops in England and Wales only permitted to open their doors in April after months of closure, Grant believes that the sector still has much potential. 

“Shops still have an important part on the high street,” he commented. “I am encouraged over what I have seen in recent weeks. The often talked about demise of the high street is over-exaggerated in my opinion.”

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