Retail to have a more contemporary, digital feel
Entain, the global sports betting and gaming entertainment operator, has embarked on a digitization initiative across its retail business, converting a core of shops in key locations across both the UK and Europe into contemporary, digital, spaces to enhance the omni-channel experience for customers.
The retail makeover will initially apply to Entain shops in the UK and Italy across the Ladbrokes, Coral and Eurobet brands. In both countries, Entain has run successful trials of new, more contemporary store design and formats more closely aligned to customers’ online experience.
“Entain is a global online operator, but we are focused on delivering a great local experience for our customers. This investment allows us to give a more immersive and joined up online omni-channel experience to our customers” said Rob Wood, CFO and Deputy Chief Executive of Entain.
“Since high streets re-opened, our retail customers have returned in large numbers which reflects the continued demand from customers for an engaging in-shop experience,” he added. This digital makeover of shops, together with ongoing investments into our industry leading tech platform and £100m of innovation investment over the next 3 years, are important drivers of our future growth.”
Since the re-opening of retail, Entain has opened 18 new digital hubs across the UK and plans to have a total of 30 new-style Ladbrokes and Coral shops open by the end of the year in cities including Leeds, Birmingham, London, Portsmouth, Sunderland, Wolverhampton, Newcastle, Dumfries and Leicester. The aim is for 200 UK digital stores by the end of 2024.
The move will provide a welcome boost to many high streets and town centres in both Italy and the UK. In the UK alone The British Retail Consortium recently noted that more than one in seven shops are now vacant (*), rising to one in five in particularly hard-hit parts of the country.
“Our shops are at the heart of local communities and employ around 13,000 people across the country,” said Andy Hicks, Entain Retail MD for the UK and Ireland. “We want to bring the experiences customers have with us online into our shops, also making them more digital and contemporary environments. We want to offer local customers a place to socialize, enjoy sports, bet and play games in a relaxed and enjoyable way.”
Initially UK stores being converted into digital hubs contain the latest gaming machines, and interactive displays, giving customers a more engaging and dynamic experience as well as more choice of interactive sports and gaming content. In both Italy and the UK, the converted stores have digital window displays and additional interior screens which allow live events and new promotions to be shared with customers across retail locations.
In Italy, where Entain’s retail outlets operate under the Eurobet brand, the Group also plans to convert around 200 shops and plans to have the first 30 locations open by the end of this year. These include a number of “Eurobet Cafes”, which offer customers a new place to meet and socialize with friends.
“This is all about offering a different and more distinctive experience to new and existing customers, “said Andrea Faelli, Managing Director of Entain, Italy. “We want to move from simply offering betting shops to hosting spaces in town centres where people can come to have a good time, which may or may not include having a bet.”
All the initiatives are powered by Entain’s proprietary technology, which has the benefit of making the digital and retail experiences more similar for customers and being scalable internationally to other locations.