Ten-pin bowling giant with four Scottish sites cheers 'exceptional' post-lockdown trading

Hollywood Bowl has cheered "exceptional" trading through the summer school holidays on the back of surging demand for staycation activities.

The company, which runs 64 ten-pin bowling and entertainment sites, including four in Scotland, said its performance has been "well ahead" of expectations since reopening in May following the easing of lockdown restrictions.

It highlighted a particularly strong August as sales jumped 50 per cent to £20.1 million, compared with pre-pandemic levels from the same month in 2019.

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Chief executive Stephen Burns said: "I am delighted at the pace and strength of our recovery since reopening. It has been fantastic to welcome our customers back in record numbers, and to see families and friends enjoying their time in our bowling and mini-golf centres once again."

A member of staff at a Hollywood Bowl venue cleans the bowling balls as part of Covid measures. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA

The firm said it has seen like-for-like growth of 29 per cent for the period from May 17 to September 30, against the same period in 2019.

It said the rise in revenues has helped guide it to positive earnings and cash generation each month since reopening its venues.

The company said it had a "strong" balance sheet with £30m in cash at the end of last month after continuing to keep a lid on costs.

However, the firm said it has also invested to complete three centre refurbishments since May.

AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould noted: “Hollywood Bowl has posted a strike with its latest trading update.

“Boosted by people taking their holidays in the UK during a somewhat soggy summer, revenue has notably beaten pre-Covid levels by a sizeable margin since the chain reopened in May. Thanks to a tight control on costs, profitability is also significantly improved.

“It seems ten-pin bowling is an activity people feel safe doing as we emerge from the pandemic. Despite being indoors, it is a well-controlled environment with a decent amount of space to observe social distancing.”

Burns added: "We took a number of actions to ensure that the group was in as strong as possible a position to reopen, and our balance sheet strength is allowing us to accelerate our proven strategy of delivering growth from investing in new and existing centres and customer-led innovation.”

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