Birmingham pub group Mitchells & Butlers has sold its Hollywood Bowl ten-pin bowling business to rival AMF Bowling for £39 million.
AMF, which is owned by Butlins holiday camp firm Bourne Leisure, will add Hollywood Bowl’s 24 sites to its existing 33 UK bowling centres.
Fleet Street firm M&B is selling off its non-core businesses to focus on its pub and restaurant businesses, which include Harvester, Toby Carvery, Vintage Inns and O’Neill’s.
The firm is disposing of Hollywood Bowl for £27 million and will sell four remaining freehold properties with the business for £12 million in due course.
AMF Bowling originated in the US more than a century ago as American Machine and Foundry. It revolutionised ten-pin bowling in the 1940s with the development of the first automated pinspotter machine, which resets the pins after a player has bowled. AMF sold its UK arm in 2004.
The sale comes on the 50th anniversary of ten-pin bowling in the UK, with the first bowling centre opened at Stamford Hill in London in January 1960. British heavyweight champion Henry Cooper was among the first bowlers.
Mitchells chief executive Adam Fowle said: “This further disposal of non core assets is another important step towards focusing the business on our market leading growth brands.”
The company has shifted the business towards its food offering since smoking bans were introduced in 2006 and 2007, although it recently reported a slowdown in sales after the World Cup saw fans turn to drinks-led pubs to watch matches.
Like-for-like sales rose by 1.2 per cent in the nine weeks to July 17, down on the 1.8 per cent seen over the previous 33 weeks. The World Cup effect stripped around 2 per cent off comparable food sales, the firm said.