Steve is CEO of Hollywood Bowl. With a background in health and fitness, he joined the company in 2011 as Business Development Director, becoming Managing Director the next year. In 2014, Epiris backed him as CEO in a management buyout of the business.
What made you decide to work with Epiris?
Bill and Ian really took the time to get to know our business. They did that in all the ways you’d expect – research, analysis, discussion and so on – and in some more surprising ways too, for example they both spent a day working in one of our bowling centres to get a view of our operations, our people and our customers from the shop floor.
That approach showed their commitment to building a deep understanding of our strategy, how we could deliver it and how they could support us.
What it’s like to work with Epiris?
Epiris is a very focused and determined organisation. But they take a collaborative approach. We both spent a great deal of time in the early part of our relationship getting to know each other and sharing views on the strengths and development needs of the business as well as on the opportunities ahead. This enabled us to agree a clear plan and ensured that we were aligned. Once we had this framework in place, Epiris supported us but gave us autonomy to run the business.
It was a very challenging but rewarding journey, and I had no hesitation in taking the opportunity to work with the team again, agreeing to become non-executive Chairman of The Club Company following Epiris’ investment.
What were the highlights of your time working with Epiris?
For me, there were three standout moments. The first was being able to report that we had delivered our four-year business plan within eleven months of Epiris having invested. The second was completing the add-on acquisition of Bowlplex in 2015: after eight months of discussions with the CMA it was a great relief to be able to get on with refurbishing and rebranding the estate. The third was being in the London Stock Exchange with my senior team and with Bill and Ian to open trading in our shares on the IPO in September 2016.
How did Epiris help?
Hollywood Bowl’s success was a real team effort. Epiris had great ambition for us, and that came through in the way they constantly challenged us to stretch ourselves. They brought great experience of M&A and financing as well as access to capital: without them the Bowlplex acquisition just would not have happened.