The Original Bowling Company (TOBC), backed by private equity firm Electra Partners, said in April that it wanted to buy Bowlplex to expand its Hollywood Bowl brand.
However, the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) yesterday said the deal could result in a “substantial lessening of competition” in six areas where the two firms both run centres – including in Glasgow. TOBC now has five days in which to suggest remedies to appease the regulator.
Sheldon Mills, CMA senior director of mergers, said: “Bowling is a popular and growing leisure activity in the UK enjoyed by many families and individuals. This merger brings together two of the largest national chains in the sector.
“In six local areas, where the companies’ bowling centres are competing closely, we are concerned that after the merger there will be insufficient competition from other bowling operators in the area to prevent higher prices or lower service levels. We therefore propose to refer the merger for an in-depth investigation unless TOBC offers a clear-cut remedy to address our competition concerns.”
TOBC has 44 centres across the UK, 32 of which trade as Hollywood Bowl, while Bowlplex has 17 sites.