In this ‘Market Spotlight’ feature, we look at the encouraging performance of our UK retail business as Covid restrictions ease, the new normal emerges, and we continue to develop our estate to provide customers with a dynamic and engaging in-shop experience.

At Entain, we are proud to be the number one operator in the UK retail betting and gaming market with approximately 2,700 shops, 14,700 colleagues and a leading market share. As well as catering to an audience who may not play online, our shops provide a convenient and welcoming environment for our customers to watch sport, to socialise, to play games and to place a bet in person or via machines.

Like all businesses with a physical retail footprint, the pandemic presented us with a number of operational challenges. As our retail estate has reopened, it has performed encouragingly, in line with our expectations, with revenues around 90% of where they were pre-Covid. Gaming has performed strongly with customers clearly enjoying using our gaming machines in-store. Covid restrictions were lifted as we went into the quieter summer sports period, but as the autumn sports season kicks off and customers start to return to offices in greater numbers, we expect that betting on sports will pick up again.

While Entain is the clear market leader, we still see exciting new opportunities for retail ahead, primarily through creating a more engaging digital in store experience. Serving customers where and how they want and responding to changing consumer trends is key to the omni-channel experience going forward. Customers increasingly want a more joined up digital experience. The digitalisation of our shops will bring new and exciting experiences to our existing customer base as well as attract a new generation of tech-savvy gamers.

The most visible representation of our digitalisation will be the roll-out of our ‘Digital Hubs’, which will transform the look and feel of our high street shops. Digital hubs contain our latest gaming machines and Betstation cabinets. Interactive digital displays provide a more engaging and dynamic experience for our customers, as well helping us remove paper from our shops. Our retail presence provides a powerful brand and marketing opportunity, and these units have digital marketing screens in their windows offering significant opportunity to promote digital and our brands more effectively, showcasing our full omnichannel proposition.

Today we have 18 digital hubs live in the UK. Our customers love them providing very positive feedback and they are already delivering strong returns on investment. We aim to roll-out a further 12 hubs by the end of this year with 200 fully operational digital hubs expected to be up and running by the end of 2024.

With the best technology in the industry, we are of course powering these initiatives in-house. We are delivering Entain powered proprietary technology solutions to underpin all key touchpoints (excluding gaming machines) across our shops, which not only provide significant omnichannel benefits but can also be scaled internationally.

These initiatives include:

Omnia - A proprietary Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) system which has been developed in-house and connects key business operations through a single, easy to use software system. This is now fully rolled out across the Coral estate and the roll out across Ladbrokes will be concluded by the end of the year. Omnia represents a significant step up from our legacy systems across player protection, audit functionality, customer engagement and offers.

Group Betstation - A proprietary self-service sports betting terminal solution for our Ladbrokes and Coral shops that can be scaled internationally. This is now live across over 150 shops and will be fully rolled out across our estate by the end of 2022. Having our own terminals provides us with greater control over prices, risk management and promotions, allowing even greater alignment across Omni-channel as well as improving the overall customer experience. As our own in-house solution it will eliminate third party costs and help drive efficiencies.

Display - We are developing our own proprietary Content Management System (CMS) which will drive all content and screens in our shops, including digital marketing screens. This will enable us to centrally control the content, on any screen, at any time and will mitigate retail display-related third-party costs.

These Entain-powered proprietary technology solutions provide us with an in-house retail model that can be rolled out to any other retail operations where needed as well as improving every aspect of the customer experience.

There’s an exciting future ahead for retail as we digitally transform our stores and provide a fantastic and entertaining experience for our customers.

Customers increasingly want a more joined up digital experience. The digitalisation of our shops will bring new and exciting experiences to our existing customer base as well as attract a new generation of tech-savvy gamers.

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