MIDLANDS bookmakers Wilf Gilbert, which has branches across the Black Country, has been bought by Ireland's largest independent bookmaker.

Ireland's BoyleSports has acquired the company's 13 stores, which includes branches in Dudley, Gornal, Netherton, Coseley, Cradley Heath and Rowley Regis.

Graham Gilbert, the outgoing owner manager of Wilf Gilbert, welcomed the move as having the 'potential to transform retail betting in the UK'.

He said: "When it came to looking for a new owner who would take charge of a business which has been in our family for generations we looked for a company that would invest to secure the future of our staff and to ensure our loyal customers receive the best possible service.

"We are confident that we have found that company in BoyleSports. Knowing what BoyleSports has achieved in the very competitive Irish market I feel they have to potential to transform retail betting in the UK.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank our staff for their many years of loyal service and to assure our customers that they could not be in better hands."

Conor Gray, chief executive of BoyleSports, said the company will 'transform' the shops into "world-class betting lounges with a wide variety of betting available on state-of-the-art screens and interactive terminals. The shops will have comfortable furniture, free refreshments and access to free wifi, and will provide a safe, regulated and enjoyable experience for both existing and new UK betting customer."'

He added: “As we enter into this new jurisdiction we would like to take this opportunity to put on record our sincere thanks to Graham Gilbert, his sons Graham and Tom and the staff at Wilf Gilbert. They have been great to work with and we look forward to carrying on the excellent work that Graham and his team have delivered over numerous decades.”