Responding to a changing landscape
Our position as UK market leader in both the ten-pin bowling and competitive socialising markets enhances our ability to respond to changing market dynamics. There are a number of emergent trends which we see as important opportunities for the Group.
As consumers are returning to pre-pandemic spending, they are increasingly preferring to create and share social experiences rather than accumulating material items, which is shaping how they allocate their discretionary budgets and leisure time.
The ‘competitive socialising market’ evolved due to strong consumer appetite for unique and inclusive experiences, including updated takes on traditional activities such as bowling, mini-golf, table tennis and bingo.
Through our active refurbishment programme and the introduction of innovations like our scoring systems, leaderboards, and our new mini-golf concept, we are continuing to set the standard for competitive socialising in our nationwide locations.
High street and out-of-town traditional retail outlets and development schemes are under increasing pressure from online channels and the rise of the ‘experience economy’.
Numerous retail property landlords and developers are responding to this by looking to expand their leisure offering and create a wider destination customer experience to increase footfall and extend dwell time.
Our strong record of proactive and successful partnerships with landlords, alongside our unique customer experiences, means we are considered key existing and potential new anchor tenants alongside cinema and casual dining operators.
In the UK, ten-pin bowling has historically been a relatively low-frequency activity and, with 338 centres, has lower levels of location accessibility when compared to cinema.
In the UK, the activities of ten-pin bowling and mini-golf enjoy a wide demographic appeal and high level of participation interest when compared to other offerings in the competitive socialising sector.
In the last year, we have worked closely with agents and landlords to double our new centre pipeline which will enable us to accelerate the expansion of our market coverage into prime locations for both the Hollywood Bowl and Puttstars brands.
Well-capitalised businesses can increase their share of the wider leisure market as financially challenged operators become less competitive or exit the market.
This trend and the associated opportunities are expected to accelerate due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant trading and liquidity pressures experienced by many operators in the leisure and hospitality sectors.
The wider leisure market remains highly fragmented with many independent operators in existence. Whilst in the bowling sector there are less than 25 independent centres with more than 16 lanes, we continue to closely monitor wider opportunities of varying scale with our strict high-quality location criteria guiding our evaluations.