Co Armagh Boylesports boss John Boyle to step down as CEO
Boylesports chief executive John Boyle, who is from Co Armagh, plans to retire from the role this year, it has emerged.
It's understood Mr Boyle (61) will remain on as chairman at the bookmaking business he founded in his home village of Markethill.
Mr Boyle, who now lives in Rostrevor, Co Down, said: "I've been CEO now since 2012 and that's not my gig. My gig was retail and going out and finding stores. But I've gone in and I've enjoyed it for five years. I'm ready this year to step back from the frontline of being CEO."
He said the next chief executive would probably be someone who already works at the business.
The company, which has five bookies in Northern Ireland, has embarked on an aggressive acquisition spree, expanding its retail presence in the Republic of Ireland by more than 10% in the last six months.
It has two outlets in Newry, one in Camlough, one in Crossmaglen and the original shop in Markethill remains. It has also been seeking to establish a presence on the ground in Britain, having failed in its effort to acquire around 360 shops that came to market on foot of the Ladbrokes-Coral merger.
It is now focused on acquiring smaller, regional players.
"How close are we? In the last month we have been doing due diligence with a company, and we're very close. I would say in 2017 we will be operating in the retail market in the UK," Mr Boyle said.
"Now, it'll be at a smaller level because the bigger level of taking over 300-400 stores at this time isn't available to us. I would hope within the next 12 months that we would set our sights at having at least 100 shops in the UK," he added.
It has employed a firm of consultants to bring it updates on potential acquisitions worldwide.
During the recession it was able to buy stores that had previously been owned by Irish entrepreneur Ivan Yates's Celtic Bookmakers and William Hill at a fraction of their previous value.
Mr Boyle said his philosophy was to cut what needed to be cut and grow what needed to be grown. And the downturn in the industry meant they could buy existing stores and their already-existing turnover.