The Original Bowling Company

Establishing a leisure market leader
Helping to grow The Original Bowling Company

The opportunity
Working alongside the management team, we identified an opportunity that would enable The Original Bowling Company to become a leading player in the UK leisure market. Achieving this objective would require strategic acquisitions and a programme of enhancement to the operations and infrastructure of the business.

The strategy
In August 2010, we provided equity funding to facilitate The Original Bowling Company’s purchase of Hollywood Bowl from Mitchells & Butlers, and certain units from AMF Bowling. These businesses were successfully integrated into the largest tenpin bowling operator in the UK, complete with common systems, operating standards and culture. We also provided capital to add three new locations to the existing portfolio of 41 sites.

Capital expenditure also included a programme to significantly enhance the consumer experience, including the rollout of a new dining concept called Harry’s Kitchen, which drove growth in food sales. In addition, we developed an in-house online booking system together with CRM and e-commerce programmes which reached over two million registered customers, enhancing the customer experience and expanding upsell and online sales capabilities.

The result
At the time of our exit, The Original Bowling Company was the largest ten pin bowling operator in the UK with 44 sites, typically located on high footfall, multi-use retail and leisure parks, supported by a strong focus on consumer-led, technology-enabled operations. Our investment in people, systems and processes enabled the business to deliver considerable growth ahead of the wider market, with EBITDA increasing by over 60% to £15m.

In September 2014, we realised our investment through a secondary sale to Electra Partners, generating a return of 2.4x invested capital.

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