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Betting Shop Manager of the Year

01 December 2015

Matt Dawson tweeted the selfie that he took after making the Racing Post/SIS Manager of the Year presentation to Matt Howe last Monday with the hash-tag ‘boiled eggs’. 

“I like his sense of humour,”says Howe. “I told him I’d now let him off the £5.50 he‘owed me’. I’d explained how thanks to him I once got docked that amount when working for Mike Ashley’s Sports World shop in the Bullring.”
 Howe, 29, says it was the occasion of the 2003 Rugby Union World Cup final in Sydney which had gone into extra-time when Dawson fed the ball to Jonny Wilkinson for the drop-goal winner. “The celebrations went on for a while, but I turned up late, and they took an hour’s money off me . . . all Matt’s fault for not getting on with it earlier!”

It was an opportunity at Ladbrokes that led Howe to being able to enjoy sport all the time at work. He says:“Initially it was part-time at the Villa shop, and I'ma fan,so it seemed a way to get a chance to watch the second half of games! It led to a job offer at the Handsworth shop,and despite getting robbed there, I've always loved it."

The raider, who also targeted the post office down the road, was quickly caught,but Howe empathises with staff who have such experiences. 

“It’s not about the money,it’s about making sure our people are okay,” he says.Howe oversees five north Birmingham shops from his Scott Arms shopping centre base, all adjacent to Perry Barr greyhound track, and not too far from Villa Park.It’s a tough area, but he says it’s home, and he’s happy. “My family moved from Rugby, where I was born, when I was 11, and I've enjoyed the city compared to a market town,” he says. 

He lives locally with his partner Synita Jones and their two-month-old daughter Ayva. Jones also works for Ladbrokes, at their Fox And Goose shop, which is in a different group. The couple have been together ten years, and he encouraged her to join the company six years ago. 

“She used to work in Tesco, but the hours got later and later and she loves sport too, so it’s perfect.”port too, so it’s perfect.”Tanya Stevenson, of C4 Racing and on the judging panel, knows Howe’s shops and the area having gone several times to Perry Barr. 

“Tanya made a good point on Sunday about customers on machines, or tablets or phones losing a sense of reality – because they don’t see and feel cash. Our job is to try and keep the customer grounded, and the betting shop is actually a safer environment because of that.”

 Howe’s immediate team at Scott Arms are Shaun Murphy(manager), Tom Makinson (deputy, who came with him to judging on Sunday), Luke Hannon (duty manager), and cashiers Sinead Sankey and James Groves. 

Jason Murdock is the Perry Barr shop manager, while a variety of duty staff supervise Kingstanding, Old Oscott and Birchfield.

“I take my turn and work in them all,” he explains. “Sally Humphries is my area manager, and Dave Hammond regional manager – he is also Adam Hurley’s [2014 winner]boss. 

“Chris Hector is our operations director. I was next to Ian Smyth on Monday, the company’s other ops director for the southern half of the country. He hoped it was a lucky omen as he sat next to Adam last year!” 

Howe pays tribute to his area manager. “Sally pushed me. For instance, she said I needed to develop myself,and that while I was a natural with customers, I needed to work on staffing skills. She was right, I now enjoy that side.”Last week he went to a Ladbrokes awards night,followed by another dinner the following evening for the seven Ladbrokes contenders who made the last 24. 

“Adam’s explained it’s a punishing schedule, but I'm ready for it,” Howe adds.“The team go to Ascot with SIS the Friday before Christmas, then I've been asked by the Racing Post to attend the three days of Ice at the ExCel in February,followed by the Racing Post Juvenile at Wimbledon in early March and then later in the year comes the trip to Singapore.”

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