Sunderland gaming firm tombola appoints new chief operating officer

James Beard, the new chief operating officer of tombola.
James Beard, the new chief operating officer of tombola.

Sunderland-based online gaming firm tombola has appointed a new chief operating officer as the company targets further growth.

James Beard, 41, has held various roles at Sage over 12 years, and left the enterprise software company as Business Development Director for Europe, Asia and Africa.

James Beard, the new chief operating officer of tombola.

James Beard, the new chief operating officer of tombola.

James joins a new management team at tombola, with four new heads of department having been appointed over the summer.

The company’s chief executive Phil Cronin explained: “In 2015 we said our ambition was to double our turnover and our headcount in five years.

“So far, we have exceeded targets set in our 2020 strategy and I’ve no doubt that James’s knowledge, drive and experience will help us deliver our ambitious strategy for accelerated growth.

“James understands the ethos, values and culture of tombola and he also understands our commitment to Sunderland – we want tombola to be a growing Sunderland business which continues to recruit from within the city and wider North East.” Brought up in Cambridgeshire, James studied economics and management at Leeds University before working as a senior analyst at Goldman Sachs for nearly five years.

He joined Sage as Group Business Development Analyst in 2005 before joining the company’s Sage Pay Division, where he worked in several managerial roles.

Speaking of his move to tombola, he said: “I was ready to move on, but wanted to stay in the North East and the tech sector.

“Sage Pay was an entrepreneurial business within the Sage Group and I learned a great deal there.

“I’m now looking forward to leveraging that experience and knowledge to help drive tombola forward.

“The potential for growth here is huge. All the talk used to be about start-ups, but now it’s all about scale-ups and there’s such a massive opportunity for that here at tombola.”

James identified both the UK and international online gaming markets as potential areas for expansion.

“There’s a lot more we can do with Bingo and our Arcade games here in the UK, especially with Arcade only being in its infancy, but there are huge opportunities overseas too,” he said.

“We’re market leaders in Spain and Italy, despite only having a small number of products, and the potential is massive. There are a couple of additional countries on our horizon, too.”

He added that while tombola is readying for a change of pace and size, there are certain things that will certainly not change. “Our culture, our core beliefs and the fact that we’re a family-owned, north-east business based in Sunderland are key differentiators and will not change. Our new HQ is under construction next to our existing offices and will give us significant room for growth.

The company currently employs nearly 400 staff in total, of which 70 are employed in Italy, Spain and Gibraltar.

It has one of the region’s largest tech teams - unlike many other online gaming companies, tombola’s own designers and developers create all the games for its popular and successful website and apps, as well as tombola Arcade.

The company’s new £7million, 25,000 sq ft HQ will create a ‘tombola campus’ at Wylam Wharf in Sunderland.

It is due to be open by next summer.