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BoyleSports opening 20 betting shops in Great Britain


BoyleSports founder John Boyle

BoyleSports founder John Boyle

BoyleSports founder John Boyle

Betting group BoyleSports, which was founded in Co Armagh, has kicked off a significant expansion of its retail betting network in Great Britain, with plans to open 20 new stores.

BoyleSports already has 25 stores in Britain, opening four last month. Its first branch was established by John Boyle in Markethill in 1982.

The Louth-headquartered firm is close to opening two more new outlets, with a further 18 “going through the process” and expected to open by the end of the year. 

Mark O’Neill, the chief financial officer of BoyleSports, said the “vast majority” of the new outlets would be in the English midlands.

He added the plans were “substantial” and would bolster the brand online.

“We firmly believe in retail, particularly in Great Britain. We have seen the retail expansion complement our online business in the UK,” he said.

“We are not just a bricks-and-mortar company; we see this as part of an overall strategy for growth in our online business as well.

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“We can see that our midlands business has, since we opened shops, outperformed the rest of our Great Britain business in terms of digital online growth, which is really comforting and gives us confidence that what we are doing not only benefits retail, but also online.”

Mr O’Neill said the new store openings were part of BoyleSports’ strategy to open stores organically without relying on making acquisitions. 

“We are still in the market for acquisitions, but in the meantime, we believe there are lots of opportunities in retail in Great Britain, and we will continue along that investment path,” he added. 

According to Mr O’Neill, each shop creates the equivalent of six full-time jobs. 

He said that an average shop cost around £200,000 to fit out, construct and get open, meaning the 20 new shops could represent a £4m investment. 

Mr O’Neill has high hopes for the stores. “We are very optimistic,” he said. 

“We go through a fairly rigorous selection programme with our property and development team in the UK, with a full business case, financial planning and analysis, as well as location selection. 

“We are very confident in the success of all the locations we go into.” 

BoyleSports has more than 340 shops across the UK and Ireland, including 45 stores in Northern Ireland and two on the Isle of Man.

The company employs approximately 2,500 staff. 

In 2019, BoyleSports entered the English midlands market by acquiring 13 stores from independent bookmaker Wilf Gilbert. 

That same year, it acquired 18-stores through its purchase of Irish operator Bruce Betting. 

The next year, BoyleSports paid an estimated €18m for 33 William Hill betting shops in Northern Ireland.

John Boyle opened the first BoyleSports in Markethill with a £6,000 loan from his father and £12,000 from the bank.  In an interview with Belfast Telegraph in 2015, he described how he had battled with alcoholism but achieved sobriety in 1981.

He said: “I thought my dad was amazing. He recognised that I had turned a corner and my gratitude will go on for ever.”

Mr Boyle went on to open the firm’s first branch in the Republic in 1989, launching in Drogheda, Co Louth. He previously said it was easier to open betting shops over the border, explaining: “I can get a licence and open up anywhere in the south because there are no restrictions.”