21st of February 2010 Author: Johnny Karp
UK bookie has designs on the Tote and plans to open 25 branches in London
The online and land bookmaker Betfred has ambitious plans for the immediate future that could see a bid to buy the Tote, and expanding further into the London betting shop sector with 25 shops employing up to 150 people.
Betfred chief Fred Done told the Manchester Evening News about his plans this week, saying that he expects state-owned betting business the Tote to go on the market after the UK general election and expressing an interest in bidding for it.
The gambling executive was celebrated the opening of his latest branch in Manchester's Chinatown, and revealed that he was committed to raising BetFred's profile in London.
'We will be specifically targeting the best quality locations we can find and emphasis for the new openings will be within the M25," he said. Bookmaking is in recession like every other industry. You have got to get the best if you want the best chance of succeeding.
'The shops we do have in London are trading very well but we need more support from bigger numbers of shops.
'The name BetFred is not so well known in London as it is in the north, but we have been sponsoring some high-profile events like the World Snooker," he added.
Done still believes the Wigan-based Tote is within his grasp - if the price is right. The sale of the state betting chain, which has 540 outlets, has been on the cards for years and an offer of GBP 400 million was rejected in 2007.
'We can buy it, but in the last two years the value will have dropped considerably," said Done. 'I now believe the asking price should be less than GBP 200 million.'
BetFred saw turnover increase to GBP 2.77 billion in 2009, a 5.7 percent increase on 2008. The company is owned by brothers Fred and Peter Done and was established in 1967, employs around 2 600 staff and has 830 shops from Aberdeen in the north to Cornwall in the south.
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