eGaming Review January 2014 - Page 28

P R O F I L E : B E T 3 6 5 A VIEW FROM THE TOP Bet365 is an egaming success story almost without parallel. Joint-CEO Denise Coates talks exclusively to eGaming Review to explain how the increasingly powerful operator plans to stay ahead of the competition B et365 and its management are notoriously private. At its headquarters on the outskirts of Stoke-on-Trent, a city wedged between Manchester and Birmingham, joint-CEOs and siblings John and Denise Coates have cultivated a persona of quiet professionalism. Its offices are part of a sprawling complex of modern buildings which feels like a self-contained village on an otherwise featureless industrial estate. Despite its riches, there is nothing grandiose about bet365’s operations and even the executive offices are small and functional. The company has changed beyond recognition since it was formed in 2000 and employed just 25 people in a temporary office close to one of bet365’s retail stores. In 2013 there are now 2,500 employees working globally for the operator, which has staff on the ground in Gibraltar, Spain and Australia. However, Denise Coates, who runs day-to-day operations and is majority shareholder with 50.1%, stresses that the fundamentals have remained the same. “It has of course had to evolve significantly from the early days,” she explains. “When you go from employing 25 people to over 2,500 over a period of 14 years, it is essential that you build 26 a strong management team. However, it is also crucial that everyone buys into the way you want the business run. What hasn’t changed is that I remain very hands on and that I enjoy running the business just as much as I did when we started.” Being a ‘hands-on’ boss in a company that size might sound oxymoronic, but the centralised nature of the business has allowed Coates to do just that. Despite being a market leader, bet365 employs just one person in Spain, instead preferring to employ multi-lingual staff at its hubs in Stoke and Gibraltar. “It is true that I do like the centralised approach to the extent that it is possible,” Coates explains. “That to a large extent is a by-product of the handson way I like to run the business. I am not claiming it’s the only way to run one; it’s just the way that suits me. I like to have all the different departments close by and I love the fact that everybody feeds off one another.” The bad news for competitors? It not only seems to be working but also seems to be genuinely sustainable. Examples elsewhere in the industry show others are taking a completely different tack. Ladbrokes has outsourced a huge amount of its marketing to Israel and William Hill has just opened up a new tech hub in central London. But bet365 remains focused on a centralised approach, highlighted by December’s announcement that it will move into a new, 2,800 capacity Stoke headquarters by 2016. Furthermore, Coates does not write off opening larger offices in other locations in the future, but believes the impetus is maintained through the tight-knit management of the business. “I would say the ethos is to keep up the momentum. It is crucial that businesses have momentum in such a hugely competitive world. You have to make informed decisions within short