Denise Coates – Britain’s Most Successful Businesswoman

by Jason Campbell, Oct 2018

Denise Coates is the founder and joint chief executive of the online betting company Bet365. According to Forbes magazine, she has a net worth of £4.6 billion and she is the most successful businesswoman in the UK. In 2012, she was appointed as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). Later in that same year, she received an honorary doctorate from Staffordshire University. Women’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 named her in the top 100 most powerful women in the UK.

Coates has been unwilling to share any important information regarding her early life, however we do know she was born on September 26th 1967. She enrolled in Sheffield University in her later teen years and took on a job in the family business, where she would mark up bets in the cashiers department for Provincial Racing. It was around this time that she met her current husband Richard Smith.

Denise graduated from the University of Sheffield with a first in Econometrics, which is a branch of economics concerned with how mathematical methods describe economic systems. She then went back to work for Provincial Racing. Despite having the expertise necessary to take a more active role in the business, she opted for more training in the accounting department. She has stated since that despite it clearly being a helpful choice, she found accounting to be very dry.

She was eventually offered the job of Managing Director at Provincial Racing. Under her direction, the once struggling betting chain began garnering more and more success. She secured a large loan from Barclays Bank and bought up other local betting parlours, doubling the size of the Stoke-based business. These shops have since been sold to Coral for around £17 million.

Some time later, Denise realised where the future of the concept of the bookies lay: online gambling sites. Sensing that she could be a pioneer of something huge, she decided to go all in. She registered the domain name Bet365 in 2000 and, having failed to find investment from venture capitalists in London, she turned to the Royal Bank of Scotland. They eventually gave her an investment of £18 million.

The business officially launched in 2001 and, after working countless hours from a temporary building in a car park, she realised that Bet365 would have to stand out from the other betting companies if they were to make it anywhere. A few of the features the site offered were:

  • The fact that the site was based in the UK, with regulations and physical locations that customers could visit
  • The site offered casino, bingo, poker and horse racing as well as normal online sports betting.
  • The site expanded to offer wagering on non-major sports, such as snooker and American sports.

These services, amongst others, are what set Bet365 apart from the competition in the early days.

By 2013, Denise became a billionaire and in 2017, she earned £217 million. She currently lives in Sandbach in Cheshire and has five children.

Coates has stated that the fact she was a woman never really made a difference, and, here at Well Polished, that is how we believe it should be. Gender should never be a determining factor in your success, and clearly at Well Polished, it isn’t. Over 80% of our franchisees are women and our most successful franchisees are also women. At Well Polished, we aim to provide female entrepreneurs with all the help they need to become the next Denise Coates.