SUNDERLAND’S city centre bowling alley has struck lucky.
Almost 30 jobs have been protected with an 11th hour deal to save the Tenpin centre in High Street West.
The Echo revealed last month that the alley, next door to the Empire Cinema, was earmarked for closure after its parent company pulled the plug.
But now the business – and its 27 jobs – are safe after it was taken over by a rival firm.
Garlands Leisure operates almost 20 centres around the country and is looking to expand its network.
Sunderland manager Brent Hope said staff had been resigned to losing their jobs when news of a rescue package emerged.
“Tenpin were looking to close it and Garlands Leisure came in at the last minute to save it,” he said.
“It happened on Friday. We were told on Thursday morning and by Friday it was a done deal.”
The venue had suffered from a lack of promotion, said Mr Hope, but with planning permission for an 82-bedroom Travelodge to be built next door and a new owner that is willing to promote the business, he believes the future is bright for a business that should be a mainstay of the city’s Riverside leisure quarter.
Plans for the £6million hotel and associated business units was granted last week.
Businesses and civic leaders have voiced frustrations that shows at the Sunderland Empire and other events such as the Stadium of Light concerts, airshow and Sunderland 10k runs pull people into Wearside – but the city loses out on their spending as visitors stay in Newcastle or further afield due to a lack of accommodation here.
“We know how important this area is and how important it is to make sure the city centre remains vibrant and open,” said Brent.
“The problem is the centre has struggled to be profitable- – it needs to have a bit more investment, to be a bit more aggressive to get people in.
“We have struggled a bit because of the location but we hope, with this new company, to make that happen.”