Indoor crazy golf firm set to expand into empty department stores

Through the windmill, under the lighthouse and over to the cocktail bar: Indoor crazy golf firm targets department stores left empty in High Street crisis

  • ‘Swingers’, in what was BHS on Oxford Street, has two 9-hole crazy golf courses
  • It also has four cocktail bars, four street-food vendors, and a hotel bar
  • Following new ‘significant investment’ the firm plans to expand across the UK  

A new business which mixes extravagant indoor crazy golf courses with cocktail bars and street food is expanding across the country, into prime high street locations left vacant in the wake of recent retail bankruptcies.

‘Swingers’, on the first floor of what used to be BHS on Oxford Street, has two landscaped minigolf courses which include one hole with an illuminated helter-skelter windmill and another with a wooden loop-the-loop.

But the venue – and its sister location just off Bury Street in the City of London – also boasts multiple cocktail bars, food stalls from what it says are London’s best street-food vendors, and a 3D photo podium for customers to capture their day out.

Swingers indoor crazy golf venue on Oxford Street opened earlier this year. It has a Big Wheel course and a Helter Skelter course, where patrons can tackle tricky shots in any weather before heading over for a cocktail at the bar

Although the concept is new the company have kept traditional elements – including the tricky windmill hole

Budding Rory McIlroys will have to get the power of their shot just right to navigate the loop-the-loop on the fourth hole successfully – which may be trickier after a cocktail or two

Just because the course is inside doesn’t mean it is any less ingenious or devilish than open air crazy golf courses

The venue also has four cocktail bars and food from what it claims are four of London’s best street-food vendors

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Now following a ‘significant investment’ from private investment firm Cain International, its owners The Institute Of Competitive Socialising have said they plan to expand across the UK and the USA.

The latest capital injection, of an undisclosed amount, follows the £3.5m the company got from Santander in March of this year.

At the time Matt Grech-Smith, co-founder and managing director of The Institute of Competitive Socialising, said: ‘We are delighted to have received funding from Santander to open Swingers West End.

Polish fashion chain Reserved! moved into the old BHS flagship store on Oxford Street after the company went into administration in 2016, but now its upper floor is being put to more imaginative use by the Institute of Competitive Socialising 

The firm behind Swingers says life is more fun when it contains an element of competition

The Oxford Street venue includes a bandstand and ‘evokes the 1920s English Riviera’ according to its owners – who are now planning to expand

‘At the Institute of Competitive Socialising, we are constantly striving to create the most enjoyable day or night out that you can have under one roof. 

With Swingers West End I think we’ve come one step closer: our location, immersive décor, street food, drinks, crazy golf and service all combine to make an unrivalled level of fun,’ City AM reported.

The West End branch on Oxford Street is considered the company’s flagship store – even more so than their venues in the City and in Manhattan.

The other London location, in Brown’s Buildings just off Bury Street in the City of London, opened in 2015

It includes lavishly landscaped seating areas with lush fake grass to make a greenkeeper proud

It even has a motorised golf cart to help navigate the nine-hole courses – best operated by those not under the influence of alcohol

Business analysts have said concepts like indoor crazy golf, ‘Crystal Maze’ style adventure venues, and laser tag may be good propositions for large department store spaces in prime locations in the aftermath of retail closures 

It opened in a space previously occupied by department store BHS, which went bankrupt in 2016.

Business analysist have said the new concept, which appeals to a generation hungry for ‘experiences’ rather than traditional gifts and goods, is a good fit for the large units in prime locations left empty by dying department stores on both sides of the Atlantic. 

The business’s marketing message is ‘life is better when it includes an element of competition – and that competition is best enjoyed with friends’.

It says the Oxford Street locations ‘takes crazy golf back to its seaside roots in a venue that re-imagines the faded glamour of the 1920s English Riviera.’

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