Robert Mabbett named Manager of the Year

Last week, Betfred’s Robert Mabbett was crowned the 2016 SIS/Racing Post Betting Shop Manager of the Year at a spectacular awards lunch. We caught up with Robert to find out how his life has changed since becoming the darling of the industry, what he’s looking forward to in the year ahead, and how he’s turned his shop into a pillar of his local East Yorkshire community.

SIS: Congratulations Robert! It’s been just a few days since you claimed the most sought after prize in the industry, we imagine it’s been a busy time?

Betfred’s Robert Mabbett: “Becoming Betting Shop Manager of the Year hasn’t really sunk in yet, especially as after the ceremony in London, I went straight back into work the next day. I couldn’t really bank on winning and didn’t have the foresight to book the day off!

“It was a brilliant day in the shop though as I had the pleasure of running the induction of new Betfred colleagues, but it was slightly odd to do so when my face was plastered all over the Racing Post! My area manager and the wider team have been brilliant in supporting me, and I’m looking forward to making my debut on Betfred TV soon.

“My colleagues at head office know that the local community is my passion and have given me plenty of opportunity to spend time in my shop. Betting shops would be nothing without the customers, and it’s been fantastic to be able to show off the trophy and celebrate with them.”

SIS: Speaking of winning, what odds would you have given yourself to win ahead of the ceremony?

RM: “I would have definitely been a long shot when the competition started, probably in the 50/1 to 100/1 range – although if you want the best price you’ve got to go ante-post!

“As the competition went on through the various stages and I got the opportunity to speak to the other contestants, I started to feel a bit more comfortable and gave myself a good shout. By the time the competition reached Doncaster [final 24 candidate stage], I was so absorbed by the process that I couldn’t wait for the results to be announced.

“Betting Shop Manager of the Year is such a fantastic competition that I didn’t want it to end. Just reaching the final eight and the ceremony in London was an honour. I’m honestly shocked that I’ve ended up winning the whole thing!”

SIS: You were the value pick in the field then! What engagements do you have in your diary now that you are officially the Betting Shop Manager of the Year?

RM: “Betfred have been great in letting me fulfil my commitments in the first few days and weeks of my tenure as Betting Shop Manager of the Year. December looks set to be very busy as I’m heading to Cheltenham to appear on Channel 4 racing, popping up on Sky Sports at Belle Vue and I have the honour of taking my entire shop team to Ascot thanks to SIS.

“Coincidentally, I had already booked that day off for our shop Christmas party and you could imagine the reaction when I told them we wouldn’t be going down to our local pub but to a box at Ascot!”

SIS: Sounds exhausting and thrilling in equal measure. How do you think the 2016 Betting Shop Manager of the Year will benefit you personally in years to come?

RM: “A fair few of my colleagues and regular shop customers have already started the speculation about my future, but to be honest I’m only thinking about the year ahead. I want to get the best out of it and not waste a single second.

“Running a betting shop is hugely rewarding but you sometimes forget that the industry is huge, and full of amazing people doing all different kinds of roles outside of your shop’s four walls. It’s been thrilling to meet so many new people and I can’t wait to soak up every minute.”

SIS: Your victory marks the first time that Betfred has claimed the coveted title. How important is the Betting Shop Manager of the Year competition to the company?

RM: “Betting Shop Manager of the Year was something that everyone talked about when I started with the firm five years ago. Betfred hold the competition in the highest possible regard and my area manager has made a point of pushing shop managers forward over the past few years.

“We’ve had a number of managers fall at the last, so it’s a real honour to be the first past the post.”

SIS: All the Betting Shop Manager of the Year finalists champion their local communities. How important is your shop to yours?

RM: “My shop is absolutely vital to the community. Based in a small village, many of our regular customers may not have a huge amount of social interaction outside of the shop and my team and I have made a point to reach out to the community.

“The change has been stark and that’s all thanks to the hard work of the team. We’ve involved ourselves in numerous local charity initiatives including one occasion that saw me outside of the shop on a stationary bike peddling away all day to raise money, and another less successful time when I realised I’m not exactly a star baker!

“My shop and local community means everything to me and is the first place I went to celebrate winning the competition. The year ahead is going to be a whirlwind and I can’t say thank you enough to SIS, Racing Post, my Betfred colleagues and my local community, who will be with me every step of the way.

SIS: What would you say to any fellow betting shop managers who are unsure whether to put themselves forwards for next year’s competition?

RM: “Jump in with both feet! The competition process itself was one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional life and who knows, you may just find yourself on stage as the winner this time next year.”