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Jockey Club Racecourse Restructure

25 April 2012

JOCKEY Club Racecourses, which runs Britain’s biggest collection of tracks, is about to undergo a major operational restructure, which will lead to more responsibility for the next Cheltenham managing director, jostling for new positions among senior management and the possibility of job losses around the group in the medium term.

Currently run as 14 separate courses with central support in areas such as HR, information services, finance and communications, the group is being split into four regions [see details below].

Each is to have a ‘hub’ course, whose executive director will manage that track but also have overall responsibility for at least two others in the region. Individual courses will be run by a manager reporting to the regional director.

The four regional directors, who will join the JCR board, will report to JCR group managing director Paul Fisher. Outline details had been agreed by the Jockey Club stewards and JCR directors before senior management were put in the picture at a meeting in London and staff told by email yesterday.

Jockey Club chief executive Simon Bazalgette said the first step in the process, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year, would be to identify the regional directors.

Newmarket, to which Amy Starkey moved as MD at the start of the month, and Cheltenham have been earmarked as regional hub courses for the East and South West respectively.

More thought is being given to which course and who will take precedence in the other regions, Bazalgette explained.

The North West has strong candidates in Aintree (Julian Thick) and Haydock (Dickon White), while the battle in London – which revives the pre-1996 United Racecourses Ltd set-up – is between Epsom (Rupert Trevelyan) and Sandown (David Mackinnon).

Bazalgette said: “There are plenty of roles available, with four regional directors, two new central positions and the Cheltenham MD’s job to be filled, so there are several opportunities to be discussed."

On the general principles behind the restructure, he said: “The courses aren’t being centralised, because each has local significance, but there are a number of ways of achieving better synergies by working across the group, whether regionally or centrally.

“Our in-house catering has proved the point, and there are other examples of partnerships that have worked far better than if courses were involved individually.”

Fisher added: “We’re doing well as a group in a challenging environment, but there is more we can and need to do if we work more closely together within the group.

“We have no fixed target but I believe that with greater efficiency we can improve sales by three to four per cent, which would generate £3-£4m on the bottom line, which in turn can be invested back into racing.”

Bazalgette said he could not rule out job losses, but added: “This is not the starting point of what we’re doing. It’s to increase sales and reduce costs, and to roll out the Jockey Club brand across the group.”

As part of the tidying-up exercise, non-executive directors of individual racecourses will become committee members, with existing chairmen remaining in position. The intention is to concentrate attention on supporting the management team and networking locally, rather than being directly engaged on central policy, Fisher explained.

JCR, which still has to fill managerial vacancies at Exeter, where Alice Everett is serving her notice period, and Kempton, is also creating two new group roles – brand development director, for which group operations director John Baker is expected to be a front-runner, and betting director, who is more likely to be recruited from outside.


NEW JOCKEY CLUB RACECOURSES REGIONAL MANAGEMENT STRUCTURE

(current managers in brackets; regional ‘hub’, where decided, in bold)

North West

Aintree (MD, Julian Thick), Carlisle (GM, Richard Clements), Haydock (MD, Dickon White).

London

Epsom (MD, Rupert Trevelyan), Kempton (GM, vacant), Sandown (MD, David Mackinnon).

East

Huntingdon (MD, Sophie Hodgkinson), Market Rasen (MD, Pip Kirkby), Newmarket (MD, Amy Starkey), Nottingham (MD, Pip Kirkby).

South West

Cheltenham (MD, to be relinquished by Edward Gillespie), Exeter (GM, vacant as soon as Alice Everett completes serving notice), Warwick (MD, Huw Williams), Wincanton (GM, Steve Parlett).

Regional directors will report to JCR group MD Paul Fisher.

Other changes:

*Individual racecourse boards of non-executive directors to be replaced by racecourse committees, with current position of chairman remaining.

*Two new group roles to be introduced – brand development director and betting director, reporting to Paul Fisher.



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