LAKE FOREST, IL -- Brunswick Corp., which makes marine, billiards, bowling and fitness equipment, said it is selling its retail bowling business to Bowlmor AMF for $270 million, and plans to divest its bowling products business. The sale to Bowlmor is expected to close before the end of October.
Bowlmor AMF approached the company with an unsolicited bid at an "attractive price," according to Brunswick chief executive Dustan E. McCoy, who said the sale is in the best interest of the company's shareholders.
The decision to sell comes at a time when the bowling industry itself is undergoing a dramatic transition from a once predominantly league sport to a casual activity in which bowlers are seeking an entertainment experience. "For Brunswick to drive growth in this business," McCoy said, "it would take continual development of new entertainment concepts and significant additional investment to implement these new concepts at new properties or to convert existing centers."
Brunswick believes that investing in its Marine and Fitness businesses, which together represented 92% of the company's net revenues in 2013, offers greater opportunities for returns. Brunswick owned Valley-Dynamo LP, the leading coin-op table game maker, between 2003 and 2009, selling it to Dallas-based Champion Shuffleboard Ltd. for an undisclosed sum.
With the addition of Brunswick's locations, New York City-based Bowlmor AMF will increase its center count to 343 in North America. "Bowlmor AMF's primary strategic objective is to invest in and grow its retail bowling business, which includes proven entertainment concepts in certain of its centers," McCoy said.
With its bowling centers operation sold, Brunswick is hoping to find a buyer for its bowling products business. It would like the eventual purchaser to retain manufacturing operations and the products division's workforce. In the meantime, McCoy assured, it's business as usual division-wide.
Brunswick became an equipment supplier to the bowling industry in 1890, but did not run bowling centers until the 1960s -- the beginning of the bowling bust. Too many centers had been built, and many had trouble paying Brunswick for pinsetters and lanes it had installed. When bowling facilities went out of business, Brunswick found it easier and cheaper to take over the operations than to remove the setters. It became the second-largest bowling center operator, running centers under the name Brunswick or keeping the original brands intact. The newer Brunswick Zones feature amusement (including billiards) and redemption centers, among other attractions.