Receivers Hughes Blake accountants who are handling the process of selling the assets of Celtic Bookmakers have had more than 40 expressions of interest to buy out part or all of the 47 shop betting business .
Leading Irish bookies Paddy Power and Boylesports have confirmed their interest whilst other leading independent bookmakers such as Stan James and Betfred are thought to be interested in the chain that was making an operating profit of E4M a few years ago .
Receiver Neil Hughes said he was hopeful for the business, having received expressions of interest from both big and small investors. “We have been very, very pleased with the level of interest we have received from outside parties who wish to buy the shops,” Mr Hughes said.
Currently 237 staff are employed by Celtic Bookmakers 47 shops in the Republic of Ireland and two shops in South Wales . It is estimated that the company has bank debts of around E6M which are personally guaranteed by owner Ivan Yates and also has significant outstanding debts to many landlords .
The interest in buying the Celtic bookmakers betting shops has being helped considerably by the fact that the Receiver is handling an open sales process whilst the shops are still trading . This allows the maximum number of potential buyers to offer for all or part of the trading estate .
This is in sharp contrast to the collapse of independent bookmaker Pagebet in May 2010 where the administrator did not trade the shops and a pre pack sale of the best performing 27 shops to Stan James was agreed by the management and administrator PriceWaterhouseCoopers
A further 23 Pagebet shops were closed and 125 staff lost their jobs whilst Stan James acquired the highly profitable shops for a cut price £1.7M .
A number of former Pagebet Directors were susequently employed by Stan James in various capacities to help run the betting shop business in the UK which now consists of around 60 shops .
Independent betting shops in the UK and Ireland have come under severe pressure in recent years as the combination of falling revenue and rising costs has squeezed profitability and made many shops uneconomic .
There are concerns that the poor weather this winter and subsequent high level of abandonements to race meetings and other sporting events may cause problems for other independent bookmakers .