Tote reviews ahead of privatisation

The Tote, the government-owned betting service, is conducting a review of its marketing strategy ahead of its expected privatisation in 2004.

Led by marketing director Lorraine Brannan, recruited from Marks & Spencer Financial Services earlier this year, The Tote is in talks with a cluster of agencies about developing a more dynamic brand identity, which could include a name change.

Brannan is keen to build a stronger image for The Tote, which has 435 betting shops. It also has a monopoly on pool betting at all 59 UK racecourses, a massive commercial advantage that could disappear when the organisation is sold off.

"We are looking at all options and will take whatever recommendations are made on board," said Brannan. She added that agencies are to be appointed imminently.

The Tote's review comes as the British Horseracing Board (BHB) launches the latest recommendations to move the sport away from the allegations of corruption levelled in last year's Panorama.

According to the report by the BHB Racing Review Committee, the horseracing industry should form a single industry-wide sponsorship unit which would manage properties collectively.

It predicts that the sport could double sponsorship income from about £17m to at least £35m if the structure is implemented.

The report also recommends that horseracing attempts to find sponsors for categories such as timing, data and technology.

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