Boyle Sports plans to open UK stores

It's CFO also has some Cheltenham tips...

Boyle Sports plans to open UK stores

David Davies/PA Archive/PA Images

The annual, four-day equine Olympics, otherwise known as Cheltenham, begin today and Boyle Sports, Ireland’s second-largest bookmaking firm, will be battling with rivals home and abroad for the hearts and wallets of the nation’s punters.

Its Chief Financial Officer, Mark O’Neill joined Vincent Wall on Breakfast Business to discuss the festival and the firm's ambitions at home and abroad.

The third week in March is always a busy one for bookmakers - but this year it's particularly hectic for the Irish company. Mr O'Neill says that during the past three weeks it's opened 14 stores - including 5 in the past "few days."

Beyond the Irish market - he told Vincent Wall about the company's ambition to establish a network of up to 25 stores in the UK before the end of this year.

He added that there are already "a couple" of potential UK outlets "in the pipeline" and that the company was disappointed when it failed to snap-up British Ladbrooks stores which the chain needed to offload to complete its merger with Gala Coral last year.

It will focus on opening shops in a cluster in one region to build on strong UK online trading which has been achieved without a brick and mortar presence.

As the gambling business continues to 'go digital' the executive says that high street outlets remain important because of the "social aspect" involved in a visit to the local bookmakers.

These shops are also an opportunity to attract new customers and to spread brand awareness.

As the man in charge of the company's cash - Mark will be hoping that this week goes more smoothly than 2016 did.

"Last year the customers beat us - hands down. We lost multiple millions," he told Newstalk.

We couldn't let him go without getting a few tips - Yanworth in today's Stan James Champions Hurdle and Cause of Causes in the Cross Country Chase tomorrow are his top picks.