BoyleSports buy 35 betting shops from William Hill as retail expansion continues

BoyleSports are continuing the expansion of their retail estate with the news they have agreed a deal to buy 35 William Hill betting shops, based mainly in Northern Ireland.

The shops – 33 in Northern Ireland and two on the Isle of Man – were part of the Stanley Leisure chain William Hill bought in 2005.

The purchase, for an undisclosed sum, is BoyleSports' largest acquisition to date and makes them the biggest betting office operator on the island of Ireland with 298 shops.

BoyleSports' chief executive Conor Gray said: "BoyleSports are delighted to realise its long-held ambition to develop a meaningful retail presence across Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.

"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."

Although the acquisition takes immediate effect, BoyleSports will only take operational control of the shops in 30 days' time to allow the company to engage with their 220 new employees.

A William Hill spokesman said: "William Hill have taken the decision to sell its 33 shops in Northern Ireland and two shops in the Isle of Man to BoyleSports, Ireland’s largest independent bookmaker.  

"Importantly, colleagues in both Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man will transition to BoyleSports employment retaining all existing terms and conditions. 

"We look forward to working with the BoyleSports team on a smooth transition and maintaining a great customer experience with shops retaining William Hill branding until they transition at the end of the first quarter when the process completes."

Gray warned BoyleSports' retail estate could yet contract due to the Irish government's decision in 2018 to increase betting duty.

He added: "The increase in betting duty has meant that the focus of future expansion and investment will be outside the Republic of Ireland."

Around 700 William Hill betting shops in Britain closed last year after becoming uneconomic as a result of the UK government's decision to cut the stakes on FOBTs to £2 from £100 from April 1.