Bowlero Corporation

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Bowlero Corporation
Private
Founded July 2013 (2013-07) - created in the reorganization of AMF Bowling Worldwide
Headquarters New York City, New York, United States
Revenue $583 million[1]
Number of employees
9,500[2]
Website

Bowlero Corporation (formerly known as Bowlmor AMF) is the largest ten-pin bowling center operator in the world with over 300 centers, of which most are located in the United States, 8 are in Mexico, and 3 in Canada.[3] The centers have an average of 40 lanes compared to the U.S. bowling center average of 21 lanes.[4]

The company’s U.S. centers represent 7% of the country’s 4,200 commercial bowling centers.[5] Its nearest U.S. competitors in size are Main Event Entertainment with around 40 centers, Bowl-America with around 20 centers, and Lucky Strike with around 20 centers. Most of the other commercial bowling centers in the United States are individually or family-owned. An additional 500 centers in the U.S. are operated by the military, colleges, fraternal organizations, and private clubs.[5]

Bowlero Corporation operates the following bowling center brands, with the number of centers for each brand shown as of January 2018:[3]

  • Bowlero (47 centers). Bowlero centers focus on group events and open play but also incorporate bowling league play. A Bowlero center is usually a traditional bowling center that has been renovated to create what the company calls a "hip, fun environment."[6] In May 2014, The company opened its first Bowlero center in the renovated AMF Woodlands Lanes in The Woodlands, Texas, featuring "recreational games and inventive menu items set in an eclectic environment that’s full of nostalgic throwbacks."[7]
  • AMF (168 centers), which continue to operate as traditional bowling centers where bowling leagues play a significant role. The company aims to increase open play and group events at these centers through the application of Bowlmor’s experience as well as increased marketing investment.[6] The company is also spending $32 million annually through 2018 to renovate these centers and expects that, by 2018, around 25 of the AMF centers will have been converted to Bowlmor Lanes and around 60 of the AMF centers will have been converted to Bowlero centers.[8]
  • Brunswick Zone (61 centers) and the other centers acquired from Brunswick Bowling & Billiards. Like the AMF centers, these centers continue to operate as traditional bowling centers where bowling leagues play a significant role. The company plans to rebrand each of these centers to either Bowlmor Lanes, Bowlero, or AMF branding by 2019.[1]
  • Bowlmor Lanes (17 centers), which focus solely on group events and open bowling. Bowlmor centers aim to provide “high-end” bowling in a modern lounge setting. The centers have DJ booths, sports bars and video arcades, mini golf, bocce, table shuffleboard, ping pong tables, air hockey, billiards, and boardwalk games, private party facilities with catering services, and full service restaurants.[6] The company claims the Bowlmor brand has a 35-50% return on equity.[9]

The Bowlmor and Bowlero names are not exclusive to Bowlero Corporation and the Bowlmor, Bowl-Mor, Bowl Mor, and Bowlero bowling centers owned by others do not use the company's branding concepts. The name Bowlmor was first used in a hyphenated form in the 1940s by Massachusetts attorneys Howard Dowd and R. Lionel Barrows in the creation of the firm Bowl-Mor, which first manufactured pinsetters for candlepin bowling,[10] patented by Mr. Dowd, and later for duckpin bowling as well. Although the firm was defunct well before the end of the 20th century, many of its pinsetters are still in use.

History[edit]

Bowlmor AMF was formed in July 2013 when AMF Bowling Worldwide, which had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May 2012, reorganized and combined with Strike Holdings LLC (doing business as Bowlmor Lanes, an upscale bowling and entertainment company). The new company was jointly owned by Bowlmor, certain of AMF Bowling’s second lien lenders including an affiliate of Cerberus Capital Management, and Credit Suisse. At time of the merger, the merged company operated 272 bowling centers and had 7,500 employees and a combined annual revenue of approximately $450 million.[11]

In the AMF Bowling reorganization, AMF’s second lien lenders converted their debt into equity in Bowlmor AMF. Credit Suisse provided a $230 million term loan facility and a $30 million revolving loan facility, and the largest holders of AMF’s existing second lien debt provided $50 million of backstop financing to provide working capital for Bowlmor AMF and to pay cash distributions in varying amounts to AMF’s other creditors. AMF’s first lien lenders received payment in full, in cash, of principal, interest at the non-default rate, and their fees.[12]

Bowlmor Founder and CEO Tom Shannon became Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and President of the combined company, and Bowlmor’s Chief Financial Officer and former President, Brett Parker, became Vice Chairman, Chief Financial Officer, and Executive Vice President. Shannon and Parker collectively own retained 22% of Bowlmor AMF[12] and were set to receive bonuses based on their ability to increase the profitability and worth of Bowlmor AMF.[6]

As part of the AMF Bowling reorganization, Bowlmor AMF assumed control of AMF Bowling’s 50% interest in QubicaAMF Worldwide, one of the largest manufacturers of bowling products in the world.[11] In December 2014 the Qubica founders and partners acquired this interest from Bowlmor AMF.[13]

In July 2014, the company announced that it had agreed to acquire all 85 centers of Brunswick Bowling & Billiards in a transaction to be financed by the sale and leaseback of 58 of the centers to iStar Financial, as well as a term loan. The acquired centers are to be operated as a stand-alone division retaining existing branding.[14][15] The acquisition was completed in September 2014.[2]

Shannon was named Bowling Proprietor of the Year in 2014 by Bowlers Journal International Magazine in recognition of his "vision and bold initiatives" to "divide the AMF bowling empire into three distinct brands."[8]

In June 2017, private equity firm Altairos Group paid in excess of $1 billion to acquire Bowlmor AMF from its previous investors, with Shannon continuing to hold his "significant investment."[16][17]

Bowlmor AMF changed its name to Bowlero Corporation on January 4, 2018.[3]

The status of league bowling[edit]

From the 1960s through the early 1980s, league bowling (a weekly group event where several teams bowl against each other over the course of a season) amounted to 75% to 80% of every bowling center’s business in the United States. By 2012, that percentage had dropped to 21%. Lifestyle changes in the last few decades have made league bowling less attractive. Additionally, many bowling center owners have shifted their focus to casual bowlers, who bowl at non-discounted prices and spend more on food and beverage, and to special events, which produce substantial revenue and introduce new customers to the center.[5][18]

When Bowlmor Lanes purchased its first center in 1997 to renovate and upscale it, league bowling was eliminated "to ease out regulars who did not cotton to the fancy trappings or the higher prices."[19] That strategy proved so successful that league bowling was not offered at the five other centers the company added, and by 2012 Bowlmor was one of the highest grossing bowling facility operators in North America.[6]

When Bowlmor and AMF Bowling combined in 2013, league bowlers at AMF’s existing 261 traditional bowling centers worried that the new owner would eliminate league bowling at their centers, too. Some cited a Bloomberg TV interview in which CEO Tom Shannon said, "I don’t think anyone takes bowling seriously – why would you?"[9] Concern grew when Bowlmor AMF significantly cut the operating hours at many centers as a financial measure, and in the process, displaced or eliminated some daytime bowling leagues.

Shannon was said to have responded that, "We plan to increase the league bowling business, not shrink it," citing AMF’s "large customer base" in league activity for declaring that its league bowling was "very safe."[citation needed] He said his company has "protected and defended 99% of (its) nighttime leagues"[20] and sees its acquisition of the Brunswick centers as "furthering (its) commitment to league play."[14] A company spokeswoman further stated that the company also aims to "introduce a new generation to league bowling" and wants to support professional bowling, including possible sponsorships of the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA).[21] In October 2014 the PBA entered into an entitlement partnership agreement that will make the company an official partner of the PBA.[22]

Controversies[edit]

In December 2004, Shannon said his company was severing ties with a group tied to the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and was returning its $1.3 million investment.[23]

In August 2010, five ex-employees of Bowlmor Lanes location in Manhattan's Union Square sued Shannon claiming they were dismissed because of discrimination. They also alleged that Shannon used networking sites Facebook and MySpace to screen out minorities and others he felt weren't desirable for his club.[24] By 2017 the company was facing further scrutiny and more than 50 lawsuits from former employees at various company locations who claimed to have been terminated for their appearance. [25]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Consolidated Financial Statements (audited) for the Year Ended July 3, 2016" (PDF). Retrieved November 16, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "Bowlmor AMF Completes Acquisition of Brunswick Corporation's Bowling Center Business". MarketWatch. September 18, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c "Bowlmor AMF Becomes Bowlero Corporation". PR Newsire. January 4, 2018. 
  4. ^ "Q4 2015 Financial Report" (PDF). Retrieved Oct 18, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c "Bowling Industry Overview". Sandy Hansell & Associates. Retrieved August 19, 2017. 
  6. ^ a b c d e "Disclosure Statement for the Second Modified Joint Plan of Reorganization of AMF Bowling Worldwide, Inc., and its Debtor Affiliates Pursuant to Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code (Document 818), Case No. 12-36495, United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division" (PDF). Retrieved February 14, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Bowlmor AMF to open "nostalgic" bowling alley near The Woodlands". Houston Business Journal. May 2, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b "Centers of Attention: Bowlmor AMF's Tom Shannon knows how to draw a crowd". Bowlers Journal International. June 2014. 
  9. ^ a b "Interview with Bowlmor Lanes Founder and CEO Tom Shannon". Bloomberg Enterprise (TV). October 27, 2011. 
  10. ^ Patent for the Bowl-Mor candlepin machine
  11. ^ a b "Bowlmor and AMF Bowling Worldwide Announce Completion of Merger". BusinessWire. July 1, 2013. 
  12. ^ a b "Bowlmor Joins AMF's Existing Second Lien Lenders, Including Cerberus and Credit Suisse to Sponsor New Chapter 11 Plan for AMF Bowling Worldwide". BusinessWire. March 18, 2013. 
  13. ^ "QubicaAMF Poised to Bring in a New Era of Bowling with Fully Invested Qubica Legacy Partners Owners". TalkTenPin. December 1, 2014. 
  14. ^ a b "Bowlmor AMF to Acquire Brunswick Corporation's Bowling Center Business". PR Newsire. July 17, 2014. 
  15. ^ "iStar Seeking $120M for Bowling Portfolio Acquisition". Commercial Observer. August 1, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Private Equity Firm Altairos Buys Bowlmor AMF for more than $1 billion". Fox Business. June 9, 2017. 
  17. ^ "Altairos Strikes Cerberus Bowlmor Investment". The Street. June 8, 2017. 
  18. ^ "Bowling trends; the bad & good news". White Hutchinson Leisure eNewsletter. July 2012. 
  19. ^ "Top Entrepreneurs 2008". Crain’s New York Business. Retrieved March 3, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Building Blocks". Bowling Industry Magazine. May 2014. 
  21. ^ "Why Brunswick is bowing out of the bowling biz". CBS Moneywatch. July 29, 2014. 
  22. ^ "PBA, Bowlmor AMF Sign Entitlement Partnership Agreement". Bowlers Journal International. October 8, 2014. 
  23. ^ "NYC bowling alley to return Arafat funds". Associated Press. December 23, 2004. 
  24. ^ "Suit Claims Celebrity Haunt Used Facebook, MySpace to Weed Out Minorities". ABC News. August 17, 2010. 
  25. ^ "Inside the ugly road Bowlmor took to make bowling cool". New York Post. April 20, 2017. 

External links[edit]