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BoyleSports expands with acquisition of two more Northern Ireland bookmakers

Betting firm now has presence in Armagh, Tyrone and Down


Opportunities: Conor Gray

Opportunities: Conor Gray

Opportunities: Conor Gray

Irish betting chain BoyleSports, which started out in Co Armagh in 1982, has snapped up two more bookies in Northern Ireland, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

The firm, which is now based in Co Louth, has bought premises in Omagh and Keady.

It was founded in Markethill and is now led by the son-in-law of founder John Boyle.

A spokesman said: "BoyleSports are delighted to take over these shops and to increase our retail footprint in Northern Ireland, which has always been a market that we have been interested in."

Both have been bought from independent bookmakers, and the firm said it was looking at other opportunities here.

The company added: "We are actively looking at other opportunities in Northern Ireland."

It already has two outlets in Newry, one in Camlough, one in Crossmaglen. The original shop in Markethill remains.

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Conor Gray was appointed chief executive earlier this year. John Boyle is now the company's chairman.

Mr Gray said: "BoyleSports is delighted that we now have shops in Armagh, Down and Tyrone. We intend to develop further our presence in these areas and to extend our footprint into every county in Northern Ireland.

"We believe firmly in our business model and as such we are enthusiastic about exploring new opportunities."

But he said the licensing environment here made opening fresh branches "challenging, and buying existing licensed offices more difficult".

"Despite these operating conditions we remain committed to our objective to have the BoyleSports brand instantly recognisable throughout Northern Ireland."

And Mr Gray said Brexit would have no impact on its plans. "Brexit, whether hard or soft, is not ideal for any business operating on both sides of the border, but irrespective of the eventual outcome, BoyleSports will continue to develop its presence here in Northern Ireland."

A spokesman said the newest acquisitions were well-established firms: "The Omagh shop has been operated over the past number of years by Lawrence McSwiggan and we are very happy taking on such an established and successful business. We look forward to welcoming new and existing customers into our Omagh store.

"Keady has been purchased from Mel Hughes, who has also been in the business for a long number for years and has built a thriving business in Keady.

"Both family run businesses have established a great reputation in their areas and BoyleSports will hope to continue the great work of both Lawrence, Mel and their staff."

The chain has a total of 242 branches, including six in Munster. It's awaiting approval from the Republic's Competition Authority for the takeover of the six stores from Bambury Bookmakers.

Last year it failed in a bid to acquire around 360 shops in Great Britain for sale following the Ladbrokes-Coral merger.