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A day in the life of a .... Director

25 September 2012

JOB IN FOCUS Richard Peett, director, Joe Jennings Bookmakers Ltd

What does your job involve?
Joe Jennings [JJBL] have 29 shops across the south-east, Jersey and the Isle of Man.
It is managed by a small, close-knit team and my job ensures I am at times involved in all aspects of the business. Generally I tend not to be directly involved with the running of the shops on a day-to-day detailed operational basis and instead focus on all the other tasks involved with running a modern LBO company.

How long have you been with Joe Jennings and what was your background?
I’ve been here since July 2003. Before that I worked at Ladbrokes, primarily within the management/operational side of their retail business within the M25.

What is the relationship with Jenningsbet?
That is not a straightforward question! Jenningsbet [both retail and online] are owned by Julian and Greg Knight and as such are a completely separate business. However, Julian and Greg are cousins to my boss Jason Jennings, who owns JJBL. Both businesses originate from the company that Tom Jennings created in the early 1960s in Harlow. They are therefore closely associated, often seen as one and more often confused with each other. We retain a very close, if competitive, relationship.

How do you see the future for a medium-sized independent?
Maintaining a successful independent retail LBO business has been tough for several years and remains very difficult. As has been widely discussed, the increase to our costs base across a whole spectrum of areas has been difficult to absorb. Add to this the competitive nature of the industry with the changes that online and now mobile have brought, and throw in the current dire economic landscape and the risk that any successful shop can be easily attacked by the big boys, and you can sometimes wonder how we survive at all.
Independents survive because, almost without exception, they are owned and run by passionately committed people who work very hard and know their business and their customers extremely well. As a result, most independents deliver a high-quality product that the nationals, even with all their resources, struggle to match.

What have you made of the OpenBet change of heart about maintaining a screen text service for independents?
I think like most other people I was very surprised. OBR have spent the best part of a year saying they not only need to close their Bureau Service because it is not economically viable, but also it is not part of their strategic plan and has not been for several years. OBR now need to explain in more detail what their plans are if they are to fully reassure their customers. That said, I welcome their change of heart because it potentially maintains a wider choice for the independent market.

What will Joe Jennings do?
JJBL operate both till and screen systems based on OBR software and as yet we don’t know what we will do. Until the OBR announcement our plan was to move away as quickly as was practicably possible because we couldn’t consider entrusting the future of our business to a supplier who had shown they had no interest in working with us. However, that may now have changed and we are willing to look at issues afresh. In short, we haven’t decided but are willing to consider all options.

What advice would you give smaller companies?
I’d encourage all companies to take the same attitude and consider the various ways forward that exist for them with their till and screen systems. The worst approach would be to hope for the best. In particular, those operators who still have SCS [slip capture] technology need to urgently consider what they will do from December 1 when OBR will ‘end of life’ the equipment.

What do you think of the BOS Trade Fair (Thursday, October 4)?
It will be particularly useful because of the reasons mentioned above. It is also always an enjoyable affair and an opportunity to catch up with friends and colleagues old and new and speak to other independent operators.

What’s the best bit about your job?
The variety. It is a bit of a cliche but no two days are alike. Things have become interesting lately as Jason has asked me to take a closer role in the telephone and online elements of the business.

And the least enjoyable?
Having to deal with the occasional member of staff who betrays the trust you have put in them.

What’s your favourite racecourse?
I’m not a big racegoer but I’ve had some very enjoyable days and evenings at Newmarket. Also Goodwood is very hard to beat when the weather is good.

And least favourite?
No one particular course, but a lot of the fun goes away when any course is overly busy and your day out becomes a chore trying to get a drink, have a bet and watch the racing.

Is there a jockey and/or trainer who you like to follow?
Ruby Walsh is pure class and on a different level, and everyone loves Henry Cecil don’t they?

Who’s your sporting hero?
I’m been a massive Arsenal fan since the early 1970s because I was brought up in Highbury, north London, so most of my sporting heroes are linked to the club. Liam Brady remains probably the best player I have seen and had the class, technique and intelligence to be a success in any era.

What’s the best piece of advice you have been given?
Another cliche – treat other people the way you want them to treat you.

Goulden to become next ABB chairman
BETTING industry veteran Neil Goulden is to succeed Warwick Bartlett as chairman of the Association of British Bookmakers, writes Bill Barber.
Goulden, the former Gala Coral chairman and chief executive, was unanimously nominated by the ABB council as its chairman designate subject to confirmation at an egm next month.
He has been on the ABB council since 2005 and has 35 years of experience in gambling and leisure retail management including a spell on the board at Ladbrokes. He is also chairman of the Responsible Gambling Trust.
Goulden takes the position with the industry facing higher taxation, political pressure over betting shop proliferation and fixed odds betting terminals and changes to the levy system.
He said: “One of the challenges the LBO sector faces now is to highlight the evidence to government that we are an industry of growth, strong economic contribution and considerable job creation.
“The government has committed to cutting red tape for businesses while various departmental and local consultations are creating further regulatory hurdles and adding to our business costs.”
Bartlett spent ten years as chairman of the ABB but has decided to spend more time on his business, Global Betting & Gaming Consultants.
Paying tribute, Goulden added: “I’d like to acknowledge the huge contribution made by Warwick. I believe we need to build on that legacy and it’s important the ABB continues to represent the majority of bookmakers.”

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