Bowlmor acquired the AMF chain of bowling centers two or three years ago now. And the newly merged Bowlmor-AMF company acquired all the Brunswick-owned bowling centers last Summer. It was well documented in all the bowling trade publications.
Along with Bowlmor-AMF's acquisition of Brunswick's bowling centers, the company also licensed the name Brunswick to be used on these bowling centers for five years. What they intend to do with the name on these bowling centers after five years remains anybody's guess. They could go back to Brunswick Corporation and try to negotiate an extended license to continue using the name on into the future, or they could transition the branding of these centers. I expect them to do the latter.
Bowlmor-AMF also owns the name Bowlero, and as I understand it, the company intends to develop three distinct brands under the Bowlmor-AMF umbrella. Bowlero is supposed to be the high end night clubby bowling experience, while Bowlmor is supposed to be more of the upscale family entertainment/bowling brand, and AMF will be the league-oriented centers. So, if you're bowling at a Brunswick or Brunswick Zone house, depending on which of those categories your center fits under, and whether Bowlmor-AMF goes in and does a renovation to convert it into another type center, it will fall under one of those three categories.
Yes, all the new literature they put out will have the Bowlmor-AMF logo on it, just like your Crest Toothpaste has the parent company Proctor & Gamble's (P&G) logo on it. This is not big news. Parent companies like to put their name on their subsidiary brands' products and literature. They always have.
At my home center, Brunswick Zone Roswell, changes have begun taking place. In the last week, the new management has announced a whole list of changes that are either already being implemented or are about to be implemented or are scheduled to begin implementation this Fall. It's a mixed bag, but I have to say overall it's positive.
Certainly the center's league bowlers (and this is a league center) will be pleased that despite their 50-cent game cards that Brunswick had given out (30 games per month), the new policy of $.99 games anytime lanes are available will be welcome (the 50-cent game cards had some fairly severe limitations, including not being good on the weekend). Free open bowling to league bowlers for two hours each afternoon during the week and between 9 and noon on Sundays (I've coined it "The Heathen Hour," as it's geared for people who don't go to church, which would include me). They also announced that there'll be a new menu in the snack bar, including all that was offered before, but with some additional, more healthy offerings. A welcome addition, if you ask me. Plus, I learned last night that Bowlmor-AMF has kicked in an additional $1,000 to three of their leagues this Summer as an added incentive to attract bowlers to bowl there. And I saw some literature last night indicated two new Summer leagues that I know will be of interest to some bowlers. One is a scratch travel league that will bowl at four different Bowlmor-AMF owned centers in the market starting in about a week. Unfortunately, it's on Thursday nights when I've already committed to bowl in the PBA Experience league, or I would bowl the travel league. And they've just announced a Junior PBA Experience league, which I know some of our junior bowlers will love to bowl in.
That's just the tip of the iceberg. While a lot of the changes I haven't mentioned won't be met as positively as most of these will, overall I have to say that the bowling center is at least trying. Now if they'd just kick the lane man in the butt and get him to do his effing job, that would be a nice improvement. As it is, the cost-cutting of Bowlmor-AMF has us now sharing a head lane guy with another center in the market, and the maintenance has suffered considerably. Other little annoyances like that have been a problem as well, but I make room for the possibility that they'll work some of it out.
Of course there's also the chance that one or more of the Bowlmor-AMF owned centers in the market will close. I've said all along that since the acquisition of the Brunswick centers, Bowlmor-AMF now owns 11 centers in the Atlanta metro, and it's inconceivable to me that they'll keep them all. But hey, we're almost a year in and I haven't heard of any impending closures. So we'll see. Until I see new scoring machines installed in my home center (which are desperately needed as the ones we have are falling apart), I'll remain unconvinced that my center isn't on the block for a closure. But they recently hired a new manager and have been hiring new staff, and with the new menu going into the snack bar, it seems unlikely they'd be making all these changes if they were about to close things down. Still, until I see the capital expenditures being made on new a new scoring system, I'll hedge my bets. That said, BZ Roswell has long been one of Brunswick's most profitable centers in the southeast, so I think it will survive.
From what I can see, they're making some positive changes. Of course with change, there's always some resistance, and not all changes are for the better (at least not from the customer's perspective). Prices will go up. We'll be issued these little cards that we'll have to swipe or use whenever we go there so the center can track our every expenditure (I don't like being "tracked," it's creepy and Big Brother-y, but I get why they do it).
I'll be really impressed when I see them start to invest some cash in capital improvements of some of these centers in the area. Some of the centers need it.