During the next two years, Gala Leisure is set to rebrand its bingo halls as part of a £40 million investment strategy to entice the next generation of bingo players. Buzz Bingo will be the new name of the UK’s largest bingo chain, incorporating a new strapline ‘Play Together, Anywhere’ in the process. According to The Telegraph, Gala operates 124 bingo clubs across the UK, serving over a million customers each year. The brand relaunch is geared towards appealing to younger players, whilst mounting a push for new customers online.
Gala Leisure, which is financially backed by UK investment trust company, Caledonia Investments, hopes to relaunch two of its biggest bingo clubs first in Castleford and Peterborough before accelerating the roll-out of Buzz Bingo establishments nationwide in the months to come. The Gala name has been a major player in the high street bingo industry for over three decades, but the iconic blue and yellow branding has been replaced by a more contemporary red and white logo.
Chris Matthews, chief executive, Gala Leisure, confirmed that the brand’s new name was selected after lengthy consultation with employees and valued customers alike. Matthews cited the company’s “unique relationship with customers” as its basis for including players in the rebranding process. Matthews hopes the new name will deliver “a sense of fun and community spirit” to “a wider audience” of people offline and online.
Mr Matthews, who has extensive previous experience of leadership in retail at Marks and Spencer and GO Outdoors, is leading a strong strategic team that’s overseeing the brand overhaul. A familiar face has also been recruited to form an integral part of that team in the shape of John Kelly. SBC News confirmed that Kelly had returned to Gala Leisure as a non-executive chairman, with his significant experience in the UK leisure and gaming industry likely to prove invaluable in the months and years ahead.
“As we begin our new strategy and look towards online in the future, we are delighted to bring John back to where he started, having founded the Gala operations,” said Matthews.
“He [Kelly] shares my vision for the potential of Buzz Bingo and his deep knowledge of the sector is unparalleled.”
Last November, Insider Media reported that Gala was back in the black with its bingo operations after its parent company’s acquisition by Caledonia Venus Acquisitions in December 2015. Gala Leisure, which employs over 3,700 workers in its 120-plus bingo clubs, saw revenue surge from £284.6m to £360.7m. It is seemingly this revenue growth which has given Gala Leisure the belief that Buzz Bingo can breathe new life into the game as a whole.
Matthews believes the “sense of anticipation and excitement” that bingo brings, combined with the opportunity of “meeting up with friends, old and new”, is a profitable recipe for bingo success offline. Mirroring that success online could prove a tougher nut to crack given the wealth of online bingo brands that are already well-established in the space. Nevertheless, if it can accurately convey the sense of nostalgia and community that bingo offers online, Buzz Bingo could be on to a winning ticket.