The Ten-Pin Bowling Market
As a clear leader in both ten-pin bowling and the competitive socialising market, we are best placed to capitalise on the future growth opportunities in these sectors.
Strong Levels of Historical Growth
The ten-pin bowling market forms a small, but historically fast-growing, part of the UK’s expanding and increasingly diverse ‘out of home’ leisure sector, offering a competitively priced experience and broad customer appeal.
It is estimated that the UK ten-pin bowling market was worth £311m1 in 2018 and grew at an annual rate of 4 per cent.
As with the wider UK leisure market, growth in ten-pin bowling (prior to the Covid-19 pandemic) has been driven by macroeconomic factors, such as increases in GDP, consumer disposable income levels, as well as the spending shift towards experiential leisure.
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 centres.
Hollywood Bowl Group has driven much of the historical market growth through its investment in reinvigorating customer engagement through digital platforms, refocusing the bowling proposition towards family leisure, improving ancillary product offerings and driving operating and service improvements.
Clear Market Leader
As at 30 September 2020, the UK had 312 ten-pin bowling venues, 61 are owned and operated by Hollywood Bowl Group which is the clear market leader in terms of centres, lane numbers, customer proposition and revenues.
While some independently owned centres and smaller chains have closed or reduced the size of their estate, the process of consolidation and reinvestment amongst the leading players has led to the branded centres offering a greater number of lanes.
There is scope for the major operators 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.
Evolving customer behaviour
An important trend supporting the recent growth in the leisure sector is that consumers are increasingly preferring to have fun with friends, families and colleagues over investing in material items.
In other words, people are favouring ‘experiences’ more than ‘things’. Participation and social competition are important elements of social capital, and this is shaping how consumers allocate their discretionary budget and leisure time as they seek to create more enjoyment in life and more fun-filled memories to share.
The ‘competitive socialising market’ is rapidly evolving due to strong consumer appetite for unique and challenging experiences including updated takes on traditional activities such as bowling, mini-golf, table tennis and bingo. While this emergent market is being driven by younger consumers and concepts are being targeted specifically at them by many of the new operators in the market, there is also an opportunity for more family focused operators such as Hollywood Bowl Group to extend their appeal to this market through their ability to change environment, atmosphere and proposition in their venues during evening sessions.
Opportunities to increase participation
In the UK, ten-pin bowling is a relatively low-frequency activity compared with other forms of leisure such as going to the cinema. Almost 70 per cent of consumer had not participated in ten-pin bowling over the past 12 months, compared with a figure of 32 per cent for cinema visits2.
The accessibility of bowling locations is a factor – an estimated 47 per cent of the UK’s population live within a 15-minute drive of a bowling centre, compared with 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 some other international markets, indicate that there is significant potential for further tenpin bowling centre rollout. Opportunities also exist to increase participation through improved customer propositions and competitive pricing relative to other leisure experiences. Ten-pin bowling retains a wide demographic appeal and the highest level of participation interest when compared to other offerings in the competitive socialising sector.
Retail and leisure experiences combine
Traditional retail outlets are under increasing pressure from online channels and the rise of the ‘experience economy’.
Larger retail property developers are responding to this by expanding their leisure offering to create a wider customer experience, increase footfall and extend dwell time. Leisure areas are being created by reformatting existing space or via purpose-built extensions.
As the UK’s market-leading operator, Hollywood Bowl Group is the ‘go-to’ tenant in the sector securing attractive developer contributions on new centres, most recently intu Watford, intu Lakeside and York, and has secured a strong pipeline of centres up to and including FY2024.
From our established operating model, relationships with landlords, strong covenant and continued maintenance programme across the estate, Hollywood Bowl Group is well positioned to capitalise on the merging of retail and leisure customer propositions.
1 Mintel Competitive Socialising Report 2019
2 Mintel Ten-pin Bowling Report 2017