Entain has embarked on a digitalization initiative across its UK and Europe retail business, announced the company on Wednesday. As part of the project, the global sports betting and gaming entertainment operator will convert a core of shops in key locations into “contemporary, digital spaces” to enhance the omnichannel experience for customers.
This retail makeover to provide the shops with a “digital feel” will initially apply to Entain shops in the UK and Italy across the Ladbrokes, Coral and Eurobet brands. The company says it has run “successful trials” of new, more contemporary store designs and formats more closely aligned to customers’ online experience, according to a press release statement.
“Entain is a global online operator, but we are focused on delivering a great local experience for our customers,” said Rob Wood, CFO and Deputy Chief Executive of Entain. “This investment allows us to give a more immersive and joined up online omni-channel experience to our customers.”
According to the executive, since high streets re-opened retail customers have returned in large numbers, reflecting continued demand for the in-shop experience. The digital makeover, together with ongoing investments into tech platform and £100 million of innovation investment over the next 3 years, are seen by the company as important drivers for 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.
Entain expects the initiative to provide “a welcome boost” to many high streets and town centres in both Italy and the UK. In the UK alone, according to the British Retail Consortium, 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.”
Initial UK stores being converted into digital hubs contain the latest gaming machines and interactive displays, giving customers a “more engaging and dynamic experience” in addition to more choice of interactive sports and gaming content.
Entain also notes that, 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.
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, said the company in a statement. These include a number of “Eurobet Cafes”, which offer customers “a new place to meet and socialize with friends.”