Coral are probably one of the best-known betting brands in the industry at the minute. They’ve been about since 1926 and in that time have managed to form a fierce reputation that has allowed them to become a high street regular throughout the UK.
The company has undertaken number of mergers and acquisitions in that period, none bigger than their more recent ones that include the Gala Group and Ladbrokes. This has allowed them to operate over 1,800 betting shops in the UK, 25 casinos and over 300 betting shops in Italy.
High Street Betting Shops
The first betting shop for the group came about in 1961 following the legalisation of gambling shops within the UK. They were one of the first to really hit the ground running with high street betting as in the almost 40 years prior to that they had managed to form a huge following from postal betting and betting within licensed clubs.
The expansion for the brand happened quickly and just 12 months later they had already managed to successful open a further 23 stores. Coral were keen to make sure that they were able to keep up with the pace of the likes William Hill back in the 60’s and whilst they never really surpassed their dominance, they were never too far behind.
By the mid 1970’s Coral had now opened hundreds of betting shops. But, their keen eye for expansion meant that they were also targeting other forms of gambling, such as casino, bingo, hotels and leisure clubs. This allowed them to have a diverse portfolio and eventually set them up to be the global powerhouse that they are today.
Mergers with the likes of Ladbrokes and Gala again allowed them to increase exposure once again. The deals that were put in place meant that for a lot of the shops operated by these brands, especially Ladbrokes, they were able to keep their original name, but they all added to the total number of the group.
At the time of writing this article, Coral had amassed an impressive portfolio of over 2,1000 betting shops worldwide, with several brick and mortar casinos to boot as well.
On the Internet
Coral’s online status is pretty strong and whilst it’s fair to say they struggled in the early days, the site now has one of the best layouts that you can find. The design is very much tried and tested on site, and there haven’t been an awful lot of changes made over the last few yeas. But, then this highlights just how good the site is, removing the need for a redesign.
In terms of looks, there is a lot to like on site. You are able to get a quick overview of the current betting markets that are next to kick off, but also get a good deal of navigation options to jump to where you need to be. If we had one criticism of the site we would say that it’s a little busy, with a lot of information thrown at you as soon as you land.
They include a good number of features though and most of them you aren’t going to find within their high street store. The best addition in more recent years has been the live streaming section, which has increased massively. You get a huge range of sports to watch that are free to users with a funded betting account. On top of this other features include live betting, live scores, results, statistics, news, blogs, Coral Radio, football jackpots, VIP sections and a huge range of banking options.
Finally, the online site is great for betting promotions as well. In fact, Coral are probably one of the best when it comes to offers for not just new players, but also existing players as well. These range from enhanced odds to money back specials, but for most days there is something to get your teeth stuck into.
The Coral Connect card is another great addition to the brand. It lets you place bets online and then collect your winnings in store as soon as that bet has settled. You are able to link your account up to any high street bets as well, meaning you can keep track of them within your betting account or simply visit a store to see if you have won.
The Coral Connect card can be used within any of their 1,800 stores in the UK and will also allow you to claim exclusive in-shop and online promotions, bonuses and rewards.
The Coral brand was set up by Joseph Kagarlitsky, who later changed his name to Joe Coral. Kagarlitsky was originally born in Poland, when his family immigrated to the UK in 1912. Coral follows a similar route to a number of betting companies in that he actually started life working for companies as a runner, taking bets on the streets and then pacing them within the offices for those companies.
In 1926 he decided that it was time to go it alone and so the brand ‘Coral’ was formed. Coral started life taking bets from a number of racing tracks where he managed to secure two pitches at tracks within the UK. As the company started to gain traction, he bought the first headquarters in 1943 opening a credit office in London’s West End.
As betting shops were finally legalised in 1961, Coral then jumped at the chance to really move the business forward and set up his first high street store. In these days Coral was able to get ahead of the competition by offering huge commissions, which allowed him to gain massively popularity in the form of the odds that he was able to offer. Traction within London continued to grow and as result he turned his attention to bingo and casino halls as well. Within 1 ear he had already managed to open another 23 betting shops throughout London and to other parts of the UK as well.
The first of many takeovers of the Coral brand came about in 1981, when brewing company Bass Limited bought Coral for an unknown fee. Whilst Joe Coral stayed on as president of the company, his role was to mainly take a back seat in terms of day to day operations and as a result, it was Bass who were keen to really push the company forward.
Over the next decade the company were to open a another 650 betting shops, but on top of that they made huge gains in the bingo, casino and leisure industry as well, which was mainly down to the influence of Bass PLC within these sectors.
Joe coral sadly passed away in 1991, but he will be forever remembered as creating one of the biggest betting brands in the world. At the time of his death Coral was widely regarded within the top 3 bookmakers worldwide, alongside the likes of William Hill and Ladbrokes.
A lot of you will be aware of the current sate of play with the mergers of Coral and Ladbrokes, but the initial buy out proposal was first written up back in 1997. Ladbrokes had set about to try and buy Coral from Bass PLC, but after being referred to the UK Monopolies and Mergers Commission, it was decided that the deal couldn’t go through as they would have an unfair advantage over the rest of the competition.
It’s worth at this point mentioning a little about the Gala brand. Basically it came about as result of Bass PLC, the then owner of Coral, buying the brand from Granada Theatre Limited in 1991 for a fee reportedly worth up to £141million. In the same year, the Gala brand was re-launched with anew image, before in 1997 an management buy-in purchased all the clubs from Bass for a fee reported to be in excess of £235million.
Gala continued to expand over the next few years, buying multiple properties for both casino and bingo. Gala was then sold for a fee worth £1.24billion to two private equity firms, Candover and Cinven. The group then merged both the Gala Group and the then Coral Eurobet Group in a deal thought to be worth £2.15billion in 2005, making them the third largest bookmaker and bingo operator in the UK.
Two more significant mergers and sales came about in 2015 where it was first announced that Caledonia Investments PLC would be buying the Gala Bingo Holdings Limited brand for £241million, and also that Ladbrokes would merger with Gala Coral in a deal worth £2.3billion.
The merger of the two brands does come with it’s complications though, and it’s highly likely that they will be forced to sell some of their high street stores to comply with the Competition and Markets authority. Whilst no deals have ben struck yet, it could be as many as 400 shops from their combined network of 4,000.
Coral in the news
Ladbrokes Coral pledges increased savings from bookmaker merger (March 28th 2017) – Whilst the merger between both Ladbrokes and Coral has reportedly gone “smoothly” the company have reported that a pre tax of loss of £204.3million occurred due to a one off cost from the deal.
Ladbrokes and Coral told to sell as many as 400 betting shops ahead of £2.3bn merger (May 20th 2016) – As part of the Ladbrokes/Coral merger, the company could be forced to sell between 350 and 400 high street betting shops. The ruling came from the Competition and Markets Authority decided that as a result of the merger they had too much of a monopoly on the high street betting market so would have to offload in order to comply.
Ladbrokes and Coral in talks to create UK’s biggest bookmaker (June 23rd 2015) – Two of the UK’s largest bookmakers are in talks to create one of the biggest mergers in the Industry. Ladbrokes and Coral are reportedly lining up a deal thought to be worth £2.3billion to create Britain’s largest bookmaker.