Bowlero is thriving as bowling alleys have reopened after lockdown and bowlers have flocked back to them.
CNN Business spoke with Bowlero president and chief financial officer Brett Parker about what’s next for the company and why bowling is still so popular. (Call your favorite “The Big Lebowski” line.)
Bowlero gets bigger thanks to acquisitions
Parker says that while Bowlero is by far the largest owner of bowling alleys in the US, there’s plenty of room for growth. He noted that there are still about 3,500 independently owned bowling alleys in the US, many of which could be potential acquisition targets.
“The industry is still fragmented and immature,” Parker said, noting that acquiring existing bowling centers and upgrading them tends to be a faster way of growing the business and Less capital expenditure than building new facilities.
The company is also in the unique position of owning the PBA, giving Bowlero a television platform to promote the sport and attract more customers to its lanes.
“There are significant advantages to our PBA ownership,” says Parker. “We’re increasing production value and developing bowlers so more people know about them. That’s raising awareness.”
And that’s where Bowlero’s new partners at Isos come in. George Barrios and Michelle Wilson, the founders and co-CEOs of SPAC, were both previously co-chairs of WWE before being ousted by CEO Vince McMahon in a surprise move in early 2020.
Can bowling be the next WWE or Formula 1?
Parker told CNN Business that the PBA will be looking at Wilson and Barrios’ expertise to try to make bowling more enjoyable to watch — without going overboard.
“No one is going to go behind anyone preparing a bowl and hitting them with a chair,” says Parker. “This sport needs to maintain its integrity. But we can make it more appealing. And they know how to take something into a more niche product and make it mainstream. religion.”
The PBA already has at least one personality that looks like he might be a good fit for WWE.
PBA champion Kyle Troup, who was previously Wendy’s manager and the son of a former champion, is known for wearing vibrant outfits and sporting a hairstyle reminiscent of the late artist and star Bob Ross TV.
Parker said the PBA is currently in talks both internally and with external media companies about how to develop a program focused on Troup and other professional bowlers.
Bowlero was not involved in the development of that show, but Parker said he would love to see the sport mentioned in popular culture. He added that hit classic comedies like “Kingpin” and “The Big Lebowski” helped boost bowling’s reputation – and he’s happy about it.
“We wanted to play bowling in front of people’s minds as a way to be able to spend their entertainment money. It’s okay if the movie has a bit of irony. If ‘The Big Lebowski’ gives people that feeling. warm and then they go bowling, that’s okay,” he said. “Going bowling is really fun.”