Maximising Opportunities – Camelot’s James Dunbar talks to NR

Maximising Opportunities – Camelot’s James Dunbar talks to NR

NR caught up with the Head of Field Sales for Camelot James Dunbar to find out what’s been happening with The National Lottery – and why it’s increasingly important for retailers.

As Head of Field Sales for Camelot, James Dunbar is at the heart and soul of making sure retailers are best served by Camelot. What does the role entail?

“Retail is the birthplace of The National Lottery and at the heart of that, are our 44,000 retailers who sell the lottery day in, day out on our behalf. They truly are the public face of our operation. The role of the Retail Sales Team is to ensure that our retail partners are supported, educated and are generating returns to National Lottery Good Causes to the best of their abilities” said James.

Retail Partners

“It’s a really big remit and ranges from ensuring that we sell The National Lottery in a socially responsible way as well as ensuring that we maximise all in-store opportunities. It is ultimately my responsibility that we strike that balance through our existing and new retail partners via our fantastic Retail Sales Team & Customer Development Team.”

Since its launch in 1994, people in Northern Ireland have taken The National Lottery to their hearts and it quickly became a huge success. People knew they could trust Camelot to deliver on all fronts. Almost 30 years later The National Lottery is still as popular as ever – what is the secret of its success?


Life changing

“The National Lottery is quite simply ‘life-changing’. It has the unique ability to make dreams come true for so many people across the UK. It has given away over £80 billion in prizes since launch, creating more than 6,100 millionaires or multi-millionaires and has raised over £43 billion for Good Causes – last year, this averaged out at over £36 million a week. That’s a truly amazing achievement and shows how much The National Lottery gives back to society. And the public plays a huge part in helping change lives” explained James.

“Thanks to National Lottery retailers and players, the money raised helps thousands of projects on both a national scale and across local communities, as well as bringing joy to those who win prizes through their play.”

Games portfolio

“Over the years, The National Lottery games portfolio has evolved and grown so that players have a variety of fun and exciting games to choose from. And that helps keep The National Lottery fresh whilst staying true to its roots, with Lotto remaining as the nation’s favourite game. For so many, The National Lottery gives them the chance to dream and to do good by playing and helping Good Causes” he said.

Retailer support and relationships

The relationship between Camelot and retailers is vital – how does Camelot keep that relationship alive and well?

“We continue to support our retailers in a manner of different ways, despite the ongoing challenges we have all faced in the last 18 months. When it wasn’t possible to visit retailers face to face during the COVID-19 pandemic, we repurposed our Retail Sales Team to contact stores via telephone in order to keep our retailers abreast of the latest information and plans from The National Lottery – and also to keep them informed of the amazing difference they were making through continuing to sell tickets throughout the pandemic. Thanks to National Lottery retailers and players, The National Lottery Distributors have now handed out over £1.2 billion in funding across the UK to help tackle the impact of coronavirus.”

Helpful tools

“We’ve been back in stores since March 2021 and our fantastic Retail Sales Team – who are out there day in, day out supporting retailers – continue their excellent work across the UK. We will also continue improving our helpful tools, like The National Lottery Retailer Hub; and carry on delivering best-in-class retailer initiatives. We also work with the retail trade press to ensure our key messages are communicated far and wide and continue to strengthen our relationships with trade bodies, like yourselves.”

Making connections

James Dunbar’s role as UK Head of Field Sales covers all four UK countries. How does he link with the sales team in Northern Ireland?

“For me personally, it’s been a challenging year not being able to connect in person with my team for the best part of 18 months. For our 100+ Camelot sales executives, this was somewhat business as usual – as they’ve been primarily home and field-based for years and so have had all of that prior experience with having to keep in touch with people via phone and video chat.

“The only real difference has been that, in normal times, you all get together a couple of times a year for team events, so that has been out of the question. I am really looking forward to seeing the whole team together again when it’s safe to do so because there’s nothing quite like that face-to-face interaction.”

Local knowledge

The sales teams across the UK all know their localities in detail – and that’s important for both sales teams and retailers in Northern Ireland.

“We’re proud of the local knowledge our sales executives have in terms of working with our retail partners. Obviously, people all over the UK from all different backgrounds play The National Lottery, but our sales execs are dotted throughout the UK – they all live relatively locally – and so they understand that shops in Northern Ireland are very different from, say, the north of England, and so we’re very proud of our employees having that local knowledge.”

Key messages  

What key messages would you want to give retailers (our readers) in Northern Ireland?

“We would like to say a massive ‘Thank you’ to our retailers in Northern Ireland for their continued support of The National Lottery through the Covid pandemic.  It’s a credit to our retailers in Northern Ireland that they are currently performing ahead of the UK national average with 65 percent of Northern Ireland retailers scoring eight, nine or 10 – out of 10 on our Site, Stock, Sell in-store standards programme. What’s more, our insight shows us that retailers who improve their standards in-store not only earn great rewards through our incentive program, but also boost their sales and earn more commission.”

Age to Play legislation

“As we move closer to the Age to Play legislation change on 1st October, when it will become illegal to sell National Lottery products to anyone under the age of 18, I would like to remind our retailers in Northern Ireland to remain vigilant and continue to ask players for ID.

“Camelot will be conducting over 11,600 Operation 18 Mystery Shop visits throughout the year to ensure that National Lottery retailers are fully aware of their responsibilities and have the relevant safeguards in place to prevent underage play of National Lottery games.”

Socially responsible

A recent overview of NR’s social media analysis showed that the most popular story overall was for The National Lottery in November 2019 – people love to know about the lottery – it really gets attention. NR asked James what other plans are in place for the rest of the year?

“We have exciting plans lined up to ensure we continue to grow sales in a socially responsible way so that The National Lottery continues to enhance the lives of people and communities throughout the UK in the years ahead.”

Tokyo Olympics

“The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics have kicked off and, to celebrate, we have a number of Tokyo-themed events to get both retailers and players excited. This includes a EuroMillions Millionaire Maker event on 13th August, a Lotto Must Be Won event on 4th September and an Olympic-themed Win Gold Scratchcard. The Olympics and Paralympics always provide a fantastic moment of national pride and, given the difficult circumstances we’ve all been living through, we hope that National Lottery retailers get a real boost from knowing that they’ve played a part in this amazing summer of sport.”

Festive period

“Later on in the year, our Christmas Scratchcard range will be back to excite players in the lead up to the festive period, along with two unmissable events from Lotto and EuroMillions.

In addition, we are delighted to support High Street Heroes again this year in conjunction with Retail NI, to help those fantastic independent retailers who continue to serve communities day in, day out” James added.

Good causes

It’s not just about making other people millionaires, there’s also the millions pumped into good causes in Northern Ireland – which literally changes lives and improves society. What has been most memorable for you?

“There are so many to choose from but particular highlights for me include over £52.7 million in grants awarded in Northern Ireland between April 2019 and March 2020, supporting over 1,300 projects.

“This included over £18 million awarded to projects to support young people, over £8 million went to supporting projects that help the elderly, over £8 million awarded to projects that help people with disabilities and over £1.7 million went towards funding for minority/ethnic communities.

“Without the support of National Lottery retailers selling tickets to players, none of this would be possible.”