2016 King of Shops Robert Mabbett reviews his reign so far

It’s now almost six months since Robert Mabbett won the prestigious 2016 SIS/Racing Post Betting Shop Manager of the Year. We caught up with him at the halfway point of his reign to talk about his experience so far, what’s in store for him over the coming months, and his views on the changing face of the industry.


SIS: We last spoke in November in what must have been a whirlwind time for you; how much has your day-to-day life changed since then?

Betfred’s Robert Mabbett: “It certainly was! I’m a lot busier for one. My role at Betfred has now changed to Group Sales Manager, which puts me in charge of several shops in the area. I have really enjoyed the greater responsibility that’s come with a more hands-on role in development and recruiting. It’s very rewarding to put something back into the company that has served me so well over the years.

My fantastic team in Brough have supported me every step of the way and I’m so thankful to them for all they did in helping me towards the award win, particularly my deputy manager, James, who performed brilliantly in the latter interview stages of the award process.”


SIS: It sounds like you’ve been busy on the events circuit, have there been any particular highlights?

RM: “I cannot begin to describe how much fun it has been so far! I never saw myself as judging and presenting the winner of a best turned-out horse at Aintree, especially not for as big a race as the Betfred Becher Chase. It may have been beginner’s luck but Florrie Boy went on to win as well.

I’ve had some great nights including the Greyhound Board of Britain’s annual awards ceremony, where I presented Best Newcomer to Bubbly Bluebird, luckily with no Oscars-style mix-up! I also enjoyed plenty of Christmas dinners rubbing shoulders with the likes of rugby league legend Paul Sculthorpe and our very own Fred Done. There have been countless TV appearances too, which I’ve really enjoyed.

My proudest moment as champion so far was when I took my team and my dad down to Ascot for a race day. Treating them to a lavish day out was the least I could do for all they have done for me over the years, and it’s a memory I will cherish for years to come.”


SIS: You mention countless TV appearances – what have these involved? Potentially something you’re looking to get more involved in?

RM: “Potentially, I’ve really enjoyed swotting up on the Racing Post each morning, ready to give my two pence worth at various race meetings and greyhound championships, as well as helping out with Betfred TV coverage when asked. Being interviewed by the likes of Channel 4 and Sky Sports is certainly a different world to my day-to-day management role back in Brough, but it’s been great to see behind-the-scenes and build on my industry knowledge. Hopefully I can make a few more appearances later in the year as I’m very interested to learn more.”


SIS: I understand you had a hectic week at the Cheltenham Festival, what did that involve?

RM: “I’ve always loved the Festival and it was a privilege to be so involved this year. As a guest of the Racing Post on the first day, I was made to feel very special, and meeting the likes of Richard Hughes and Hayley Turner was a wonderful experience. The celebrity lifestyle is definitely something I could get used to!

It was back to doing what I enjoy the most for the rest of the week, as I worked on the counter for Betfred. Unfortunately, the Gold Cup winner eluded me but I had a brilliant time over the four days.”


SIS: Going into the second half of your reign as Manager of the Year, what do you have in-store over the next six months?

RM: “Being a huge snooker fan since I was very young, it’ll be an amazing experience to work with Betfred on its sponsorship of the World Snooker Championships in Sheffield. This is quickly followed by running the London Marathon on April 23rd, and I will be having to fit my training around my duties in what is set to be one of my busiest months of the year. Running on behalf of mental health charity Mind, I will be banging the fundraising drum around my local area in the next few weeks.

I’m also very excited about the opportunity to attend the Singapore Derby, I don’t think I’ll have experienced anything like it before and I’m very thankful to SIS and Racing Post for flying me out.”


SIS: Good luck with the marathon. Finally, do you have any thoughts on the high street betting shop’s place in today’s betting climate?

RM: “It’s fair to say that retail betting is entering a transitional phase but I am sure there will always be a place for a healthy betting shop presence on high streets around the UK. From my own experience, they offer a valuable service to the local community as both employers and as a social presence.

It is important we embrace modern technology to keep up with the online challenge and keep on moving forward as an industry. I also hope the government makes the right call when it comes to protecting FOBT’s. But whatever happens, I know the industry will respond accordingly and we will continue to offer a quality service to our customers.”


The 2017 competition launches very shortly, make sure you keep an eye out for the all-important entry details.