The Ten-Pin Bowling Market
The ten-pin bowling market forms a small, but fast growing, part of the UK’s ‘out of home’ leisure sector offering a competitively-priced experience and broad customer appeal.
Hollywood Bowl Group has led growth in the market by investing consistently and re-invigorating the customer proposition. This has helped reposition bowling back into the mainstream.
A growth sector
The UK out of home leisure sector was worth an estimated £125bn in 20171, of which ten-pin bowling had a market share of just over 0.24 per cent2. It is estimated that the UK ten-pin bowling market in 2017 grew by 5.6 per cent. This marked the fifth consecutive year of growth2.
As with the wider UK leisure market, growth in ten-pin bowling has been driven by macroeconomic factors, such as increases in GDP, consumer confidence and disposable income.
Alongside this, a key historical growth factor has been corporate consolidation and significant investment by leading branded operators, primarily in the refurbishment of existing centres and, in part, in the opening of new venues.
Hollywood Bowl Group has driven much of the market growth through our investment in reinvigorating customer engagement through CRM platforms, refocusing the bowling proposition towards family leisure, improving ancillary product offerings and driving operating improvements. From 2015–2018, the Group delivered a compound annual growth rate of 12.5% per cent.
Growth in the value of the ten-pin bowling market is expected to continue over the next five years, stimulated by ongoing investment and an overall improvement in the quality of the customer proposition.
Consumer leisure spend could be tempered as rising inflation and slowing wage growth begin to impact household budgets and UK economic growth slows amid uncertainty over the impact of ‘Brexit’. However, barring a more severe economic slowdown than currently anticipated, it is expected that the value of the ten-pin bowling market will grow by an estimated 16 per cent between 2017 and 20212.
It is anticipated that this growth will be underpinned by the development of new centres, the continued refurbishment of existing centres and associated improvement in the customer experience. It is expected that participation in ten-pin bowling, visit frequency and spend per game will all increase in line with these activities.
A significant opportunity
By comparing visits to ten-pin bowling centres with visits to the cinema, it is evident that the opportunity to increase the size of the ten-pin bowling market in the UK is significant, in terms of both numbers of centres and frequency of visits.
In the UK, ten-pin bowling is a relatively low- frequency activity compared to other forms of leisure such as the cinema. Almost 70 per cent of consumers have not participated in ten-pin bowling over the past 12 months, compared to 32 per cent for cinemas2.
The accessibility of bowling locations is also lower – an estimated 47 per cent of the UK’s population lives within a 15-minute drive of a bowling centre, compared to 69 per cent living within a 15-minute drive of a cinema2. Distance may be a factor in deterring some consumers from visiting centres and may also impact negatively on repeat visits.
These figures, and the fact that in the UK there is low penetration of bowling centres per head of population relative to other international markets, indicate that there is significant potential for further ten-pin bowling centre roll out. Opportunities also exist to increase participation through improved customer propositions and competitive pricing relative to other leisure experiences.
An affordable leisure offering
Ten-pin bowling is a competitively priced and highly accessible form of family entertainment.
The cost to a family of a visit to a bowling centre compares favourably to other leisure activities and gives bowling more resilience to any challenges posed by the wider economic situation.
Our position in the market
Hollywood Bowl Group is the clear market leader in terms of centres, lane numbers, customer proposition and revenues and has driven much of the growth in the market through its investment-led strategy.
As at 30 September 2018, the UK had 309 tenpin bowling venues. The number of centres has remained almost static over the past decade, but there has been a decline in the number of available lanes since 2007. While some independently owned centres have closed, the process of consolidation and reinvestment among some of the leading players has led to the branded centres offering more lanes than previously.
The market remains relatively fragmented but has seen significant consolidation since 2014.
There are four types of operator3 identified within the UK ten-pin bowling market:
- Major multiples (estimated 71 per cent market share) operating five or more centres. The leading three operators control 44 per cent of all UK centres and over 60 per cent of all available lanes. Hollywood Bowl Group is in this category.
- Other multiples (estimated five per cent market share), operating fewer than five centres.
- Urban bowling operators (estimated seven per cent market share) catering primarily for professionals, operating smaller sites with a focus on the ‘urban’ market and an emphasis on food and beverage sales.
- Independent operators (estimated 17 per cent market share) operating single centres, which are typically smaller and situated in tertiary locations.
There is scope for the major multiples to increase their share of the ten-pin bowling market as weaker operators, particularly the independents and other multiples, become less competitive or exit the market.
Changing retail landscape
Traditional retail outlets are under increasing pressure from online channels and the rise of the ‘experience economy’, with customers increasingly seeking to invest in experiences rather than possessions.
As a result, larger retail developers are having to fight back and are increasingly looking to create a wider customer experience through the expansion of their leisure offering to increase footfall and extend dwell time. Leisure areas are created by reformatting existing space or via purpose-built extensions. Within these new retail and leisure developments ten-pin bowling is currently underrepresented as shown in the table above.
As the UK’s market-leading operator, Hollywood Bowl is the ‘go-to’ tenant in the sector securing attractive developer contributions on new centres, most recently at the Southampton Hammerson development and at the intu Derby and Watford centres, and has secured a strong pipeline of centres until FY2022.
From our established opening model, relationships with landlords, strong covenant and continued maintenance programme across the estate, Hollywood Bowl Group is well positioned to capitalise on the potential growth within the merging of retail and leisure customer propositions.
1. Mintel Leisure Review 2017
2. Mintel Ten-pin Bowling Report 2017
3. Pragma Consulting Report 2016