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UK bookmaker Pagebet collapses

The publication NE Business reports that over 120 staff have lost their jobs with the collapse of regional bookmakers Pagebet, a book making company founded in 1963. But it could have been far worse; 144 workers have been saved as 30 bookies shops have been sold by administrators of the Durham-based firm.

Administrators Pricewaterhouse Coopers have shut down 23 of Pagebet's 53 stores with the immediate redundancy of 125 workers. Four staff will remain to help adminstrators wind up the company.

But 27 sites employing 131 staff were sold to Oxfordshire bookmakers chain operator Stan James (Abingdon) and three, employing 13 staff, to Newcastle-based Platinum Leisure (North East).

Craig Livesey, director and joint administrator at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, said: "Pagebet Bookmakers Limited has experienced very challenging trading conditions and has generated significant losses.

"Whilst we are pleased to have been able to sell over half the business straight away saving a considerable number of jobs, unfortunately we have not found a buyer for the other 23 betting offices, which have had to close immediately."

The company had grown quickly in recent years buying stores from other operators and opening its own stores. But administrators said that despite winning large amounts of investment from Advantage Capital for its growth it had also generated large losses and had used up all its cash.

Steve Fisher of Stan James told NE Business: "As part of the transaction, Stan James is pleased to guarantee payment for all unpaid winnings in the shops that the administrator will be closing plus all wagers on bets that have selections still to run.

"Throughout the negotiations Stan James has attached great importance to maintaining employment and honouring all payment of winnings."

Pagebet had a brief career in the online gambling sector, launching an internet sports book on its dotcom domain using BetXTech software with United Kingdom licensing back in late September 2008.

However, barely a year later the company committed its online venture into receivership. Tenon Recovery, the receiver manager, managed to arrange a buy out of the online resources which safeguarded nine jobs at the company's Durham premises.

At the time, then CEO Austin Carney justified the resolution to quit the lucrative betting sector on the grounds that the company required a heavy amount of investment in order to grow during the recession. This view conflicted with the board of directors' vision for the company, as well as the business's equity partner.

Pagebet went on to focus on developing its string of betting establishments, together with an envisaged tele-betting venture.

Source: InfoPowa News

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