STARTED in 2005 with an injection of cash from venture capitalist Ben Goldsmith, Fitzdares markets itself as “the bespoke bookmaker for the discerning gambler.” In six years it has developed into a successful niche bookmakers catering to some of London’s wealthiest gamblers. With a solid track record in sports, it has now moved into the business of financial spread betting.
Balthazar Fabricus is the entrepreneur behind Fitzdares. Having joined Ladbrokes from university, he had “a burning desire to start a business that would offer a best of breed customer service to discerning gamblers.” Initially, Fitzdares specialised in offering a fixed odds service on sporting events, but after a couple of years moved into sports spread betting. Motivated by demand from existing clients to access more markets, Fabricus has now launched a joint venture with WorldSpreads to offer financial spread betting.
Customer service is the USP of Fitzdares and it relies principally on word-of-mouth to get new business. Fabricus believes that even though financial spread betting is a highly competitive market, it can find a comparable niche as they found in sports betting. Traditionally a phone-based company with the feel of a private members’ club, Fitzdares’ spread betting members will trade mostly online, so the firm is launching mobile phone apps alongside a new trading platform.
Fabricus believes spread betting is a growing sector, but recognises that he operates at a different level to most of the competition. He has no ambitions to be the next IG in financial spread betting, any more than he wishes to see a Fitzdares on every high street instead of Ladbrokes. But Fabricus would love Fitzdares to be the Coutts of betting. Ironically, many of the big name players in sports betting started out offering a similar service to Fitzdares. Ladbrokes was on Old Burlington Street and William Hill on Carnaby Street, and their success was built upon old school turf account philosophy. Fabricus’ aim is to “herald a return to those principles of yesteryear.”
A challenge for Fitzdares might be in differentiating itself in spread betting where digital interactions dominate. Fabricus counters this by saying that unrivalled customer service – even through emails – combined with the look and feel of his website will distinguish Fitzdares from the competition. Given his success to date, it would take a brave man to bet against him.