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Jersey Bowl operators buy premises for £2.5m

Jersey Bowl operators buy premises for £2.5m

Wednesday 24 June 2020

Jersey Bowl operators buy premises for £2.5m

Wednesday 24 June 2020


The Assistant Minister with responsibility for sport has said he hopes the operators of Jersey Bowl will pump investment into the ageing facility after buying the premises for £2.5m - if not, it could face some competition.

JB Real Estate purchased the freehold, which includes 18 bowling lanes, arcade games, an indoor play area, bar, restaurant and Thai takeaway, in a transaction that passed through the Royal Court on 12 June.

The company is led by Director Medhi Afshar, Chief Executive of MFA Bowl, which currently runs six alleys across the British Isles - including the one in Jersey. 

In an announcement teasing ‘exciting plans’ for the business, he commented: "I am delighted to have acquired this iconic business that has been serving the people of Jersey for over 25 years and will continue to do so.”

Natalie Harris, Head of Property at Voisin Law, which handled the transaction, hailed the purchase as a “positive sign for Jersey’s economy” amid the covid-19 pandemic.

Pictured: The Jersey Bowl transaction was £2.5m, according to court papers seen by Express.

News of the purchase comes following several closures of MFA premises in recent years, which have gone on to be sold and/or repurposed.

Among them was Guernsey Bowl, which abruptly closed its doors in 2017, leaving staff redundant. Its premises was sold for just under £2.5m in March this year.

While Jersey Bowl has remained operational throughout, numerous islanders have taken to social media to express concerns about the state of the facility.

Assistant Minister with responsibility for sport and mental health, Senator Steve Pallett, told Express he hoped the sale would lead to significant improvements to the bowling zone.

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Pictured: Guernsey Bowl, which closed its doors in 2017 and sold off earlier this year.

Noting that bowling is an Island Games sport, he emphasised the need for a quality spot, adding: “[Jersey Bowl] is not all it could be… It needs investment.” 

If the owners don’t deliver, Senator Pallett suggested there may be competition afoot - maybe even next door.

Although work on enhancing the island’s sports facilities is currently on pause due to the pandemic, Senator Pallett says he still has ambitions for an “Island Stadium” - a complex that could even include a bowling alley.

To this end, he says he has been "in discussions" about the future of the Rugby Club HQ.

While it's "early days" still, the Senator explained that there was appetite for the "exciting" venture in the form of a public-private partnership - but he refused to be drawn on who may or may not invest.

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Pictured: Senator Steve Pallett, Assistant Minister with responsibility for sport and mental health.

According to the Senator, such a project could provide the type of economic stimulus project the island needs as it seeks to emerge from the blow struck by covid-19 by providing a significant construction boost and jobs.

He added that Jersey’s rugby team would welcome an improved playing ground, as would the Jersey Bulls - which are “growing as a brand and business” - to attract and build sport tourism locally.

“They need facilities where they can have a sustainable future,” Senator Pallett said.

The stadium could also act as a “community hub” and leisure facility, which could have knock-on benefits for islanders’ mental health.

This, in turn, Senator Pallett argued, could help boost productivity, which had been consistently plummeting prior to the pandemic - a trend the Economic Development Minister had been tasked with turning around. 

Above all, however, Senator Pallett said that, after the difficulties the pandemic has brought to islanders in a personal and professional capacity, wellbeing must be “at the forefront” of the island’s recovery plan. 

“We need to put pressure on government to make wellbeing a priority of decision-making, not just economic, but based on the benefits to the island community and people’s quality of life.” 

However, the Senator admitted that, even though he had received previous government backing improve sports facilities, he may have a challenge on his hands convincing his fellow Ministers that it is still a “worthwhile” project with the public purse squeezed by the pandemic.

“I am conscious there are a lot of competing departments looking for money, and it’s something that’s not top of the agenda, but it needs to be… It’s hard to make the case, but it’s something that must be considered.”

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