Coral Eurobet heads league - Sunday 12th of June 2005

BRITAIN’S appetite for a flutter has transformed Coral Eurobet into the country’s biggest private company.

As turnover almost doubled last year to £5.4 billion, the betting and gaming operator knocked retailer John Lewis off the top of the Sunday Times KPMG Top Track 100. The annual league table, published today as a separate supplement for the fourth year, ranks Britain’s biggest unquoted companies by their sales.

Coral Eurobet, acquired three years ago by Charterhouse in an £860m management buyout, has made the most of a change in gambling taxation that has enabled it to introduce hugely popular low-margin betting products. It has had a surge in custom at its 1,200 betting shops, in particular on its fixed-odds betting terminals, and on its websites and internet poker sites. Two-thirds of its online revenue comes from outside the UK and total operating profits have leapt to £145m.

Two other betting groups, Done Brothers Bookmakers and Gala Group, the bingo and casino operator, are also in this year’s league table. Both have increased sales in the past year. Done’s revenues jumped 47% to £568m while takings at Gala, majority-owned by Cinven and Candover and run by John Kelly, rose 18% to £544m.

The strong performance of these companies gives a further indication of the betting sector’s increasing prominence in Britain.

Coral comes in seventh place in the league table of private companies with the biggest profits. Its last filed accounts showed annual operating profits of £145m. John Swire & Sons came top with an operating profit of £349m on sales of £2 billion. John Lewis came third with profits of £219m and second in the sales top 10 with £4.8 billion.
 

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