Hollywood Bowl, the UK’s biggest tenpin bowling operator, has increased annual revenues and profits to well above pre-pandemic levels and believes its value entertainment will continue to appeal to families looking to cut back on household spending.
The company, which claims to be the cheapest option among the big tenpin bowling operators, said that the ability of a family of four to play for less than £22 will continue to make it attractive during the cost of living crisis.
“Although our customers are undoubtedly facing a number of challenges, I firmly believe that our great value for money offer will remain very attractive to families looking for high quality, affordable leisure experiences to enjoy together,” Stephen Burns, the chief executive of Hollywood Bowl, said.
The chain, which operates in the UK and Canada, said like-for-like revenues grew by more than 28% to £185m in the year to 30 September compared with the same period in 2019 before the coronavirus pandemic.
The UK, where it operates under the Hollywood Bowl and Puttstars brands, reported revenues of £178m in its latest financial year, compared with £72m in 2021, and £130m in 2019.
Annual profits, which the company said will beat market expectations this year, are also up more than 40% compared with pre-pandemic levels.
The company, which reintroduced its dividend this year, said that its business is relatively insulated against soaring energy bills and inflation in its supply chain.
UK electricity costs are hedged until the end of 2024 and food and drink account for less than 10% of overall costs. The company has simplified its menus to minimise exposure to food and drink cost inflation.
Staff costs are equivalent to less than a fifth of total revenue and the workforce has benefited from the introduction of a new bonus scheme and received a cost-of-living payment totalling £1m.
Hollywood Bowl employed 1,787 staff at the end of September last year, according to the company’s most recent publicly available annual report. This was down from 2,041 at the end of September 2020.
“Hollywood Bowl is our top pick in our UK leisure coverage,” Roberta Ciaccia, an analyst at Investec, said. “The company is extremely well protected against rising food, labour and energy costs, a position of relative safety in UK leisure.”
Hollywood Bowl, which has £56m in cash on its balance sheet, said it intends to expand its business in the UK and Canada by about 50% to 110 sites in the coming years.
The company operates at 63 UK locations, including three new centres opened in Belfast, Birmingham and Harrow during the financial year.
Two new centres are due to open in the company’s current financial year, in Speke and Peterborough, with another 10 sites in the UK planned by the end of 2025.
In Canada, where Hollywood Bowl operates about a dozen sites, the company is aiming to open up to 10 centres over the next five years, and a further 20 sites over the next decade.
“Looking ahead, we see a significant opportunity to grow our business to more than 110 centres,” Burns said. “Our strong balance sheet and cash generative business model, combined with our resilience to inflationary pressures will allow us to capitalise on this organic and international growth potential.”
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