Bowling alley group Ten Entertainment’s sales hurt by lockdown

Site closures during the lockdown have pushed bowling alley company Ten Entertainment into the red, and the boss on Wednesday said he is “frustrated” ahead of new restrictions coming in.

Speaking a day after the government said businesses will have to start shutting certain leisure venues, including bowling alleys, from 10pm this Thursday, Ten Entertainment’s chief executive Graham Blackwell said he is “frustrated for the whole of the leisure industry”.

However, he said his firm, which has branches in areas including Acton and Kingston, will be less impacted than pubs and restaurants and other firms, because much of Ten’s trade comes from families and children before 10pm.

Blackwell said: “Our capacity constraints, particularly in respect of alternate lane usage and the 10pm curfew, limit our scope for delivering sales growth in the short term. We are working closely with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to address this and to agree and implement safe protocols for opening all our estate’s lane capacity when appropriate to do so.”

Numerous companies in the sector had to shut sites in March for the lockdown and could only reopen them in the summer, with social distancing measures in place.

In the first half to June 28 Ten Entertainment saw sales drop to £22.5 million from £41.4 million. It recorded a pre-tax loss of £7 million compared to a £5.9 million profit a year earlier.

Ten’s 46 sites have now reopened and Blackwell pointed out that prior to the coronavirus outbreak there was sales growth.

Initial trading has been encouraging. In the five weeks from August 17 to September 20, comparable sales have been at 83% of the same period last year and spend per head has been maintained.