Toals acquires nine new betting shops in major expansion
TOALS bookmakers is adding another nine shops to its growing portfolio following another major acquisition.
The locally-owned betting office operator has bought what remained of the Sawey bookmakers group in Co Down.
Toals has taken over two shops in Newcastle and others in Ballynahinch, Castlewellan, Dundrum and Kilkeel.
The acquisition also included three licences for outlets that were no longer operating.
It represents another significant investment for the firm which already operates 40 outlets across the north and employs around 250 people.
Last year, it opened the biggest bookies shop anywhere in Britain or Ireland on Belfast's High Street.
And recently, the firm launched an online service to go alongside its already popular telephone betting service.
Company owner Gary Toal told the Irish News: "We're really well established now and have a very recognised brand.
"We had previously bought a Sawey shop in Bangor but this is effectively the rest of the group.
"Sawey is a name that has been around since the 1930s and is one of the old bookmakers.
"All the shops will be rebranded and newly fitted out," he said.
"Some of them are listed so we'll have to work with planners to see what best suits the areas."
Mr Toal said the company, which can trace its roots back to 1927, would continue to grow over the coming years.
"Growth is definitely through acquisition because of the difficulty in obtaining a new licence here. But opportunities for acquisition are very few now."
In a sign of confidence in the market, Toals bought the former Passport Office on Belfast's High Street where it now houses its head office.
Last year, it converted the ground floor into a 7,600 sq ft state-of-the-art shop complete with banks of high definition, multi-view television systems and touch screen customer information terminals, combined with soft seating and tea/coffee areas.