M&B to sell bowling firm in £39m deal

PUBS and restaurants group Mitchells & Butlers is offloading its Hollywood Bowl ten-pin bowling business to rival AMF Bowling for £39m.

AMF will add Hollywood Bowl’s 24 sites to its existing 33 UK bowling centres. M&B is selling non-core businesses to focus on its pub operations, which include Harvester, Toby Carvery, Vintage Inns and O’Neill’s.

Last month, M&B said its rate of sales growth slowed in June and July as food sales fell during the World Cup. In July, the pub group said it was making good progress towards achieving its objectives for the year.

The £39m sale of the bowling business is made up of £27m for the Hollywood Bowl and another £12m for four freehold properties.

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.”

M&B has focused its business on its food offering since smoking bans were introduced in 2006 and 2007.

In a note, broker Panmure Gordon suggests the money raised from these pubs will allow M&B to reinstate its dividend to shareholders as well as provide the capital needed to deliver on the group’s plans to grow its food led brands.

Former Debenhams chairman John Lovering took over as M&B chairman earlier in the year.

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