Sky Bet sees profit and customer numbers soar but signals concern on recruitment

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Sky Betting and Gaming picked up an extra half a million customers this year as its revenue soared by 38 per cent to £516m, with its boss saying it would be targeting further market share.

The Leeds-based tech giant saw its customer numbers increase by 31 per cent to 2.6m, up from 1.95m the year prior. Its profit before tax grew by 38 per cent to £146m in the period up to June 30, compared to £105m in 2016.

Sky Betting and Gaming also grew its headcount in Yorkshire by 40 per cent during this time and continues to bring more people in to the business, both at its headquarters in Leeds and in Sheffield.

The company has also successfully launched its operations in Italy during the year and, as of yesterday, is now live in Germany.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post the firm’s chief executive Richard Flint said that he felt confident his firm could continue to grow but said recruitment remained an issue for the business going forward, with poor transport links behind the difficulty.

He also added that his company’s decision to handle all of its operations from the UK did place it a financial disadvantage to its competitors and said any alterations to the way the sector was taxed could cause it to look at where its operations were based.

Sky Betting and Gaming chief exective Richard Flint

Sky Betting and Gaming chief exective Richard Flint

Mr Flint, who has also been named the CBI’s chairman for Yorkshire, said: “We can keep on growing and keep on taking share, but inevitably we won’t carry on growing at this per centage rate forever.

“We have been really happy with the quality of people we have got. We have been more proactive at recruiting people straight out of university.

“That said it probably is getting harder. We look forward to working with people in the city at promulgating the brand of Yorkshire.”

When asked how much of a prohibitive factor the region’s transport infrastructure was when it came to recruitment, Mr Flint said: “It is an issue.

“We did a survey of people that have considered working for Sky Betting and Gaming and one of the main reasons that they had said for not coming to work here was the time of the commute. I think, certainly if we had better transport, east to west, it would enable us to recruit people from Manchester, which is not really an option at the moment.

“It is not as good as it should be and I think if we improved transport we would be able to attract more people.”

Mr Flint added that, taking all of the firm’s taxes in aggregate, its contribution was £153m in the year, equivalent to 30 per cent of its total revenue.

And, while making clear that taxation for business was a crucial part of the economy, he added that if rates were increased it would cause the business to rethink where some of its operations were housed.

“The main difference is we pay VAT on our marketing, so that costs us between £25 and £30m a year,” he said.

“If we were offshore we would not pay that tax, so our marketing is about 20 per cent more expensive. So that is not surprisingly an issue but having said that we benefit from the quality of people we can recruit in Yorkshire, compared with offshore locations.

“We benefit from having the whole business together and close to our customers.”

“If that burden were to be increased further on top of the additional tax costs that we pay from being onshore it would start to be unsustainable when our competitors avoid at minimum the VAT part and potentially some other taxes as well.

“We have written to the Treasury to remind them of the high taxes we pay and our job creation plans and just to make the point that, while it is important businesses pay tax, there comes a point when it is not sustainable, particularly when competitors pay less.”

Mr Flint added that the roots that Sky Betting and Gaming had in Yorkshire were a vital part of its success.

“We have found Yorkshrie a fantatsic place to grow the busines. It has talent from the universities and a vibrant social scene.

“In theory we could move anywhere but a lot of the reaons for our success are the intangibles such as our culture and our team and I think Yorkshire is part of those intalgibles.

“If you took that away we would suffer.”

He added that the nature of the region also made it easier to retain quality staff.

“It is a fantastic place to build the business and build the team.

“On blanace being in Yorkshire versus being in London has been a big benefit to us.”