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Shock as Namco Funscape in Ipswich closes

PUBLISHED: 11:03 08 January 2019 | UPDATED: 12:30 10 January 2019

Namco Funscape, formerly Solar Bowl, in Sproughton Road  has  closed Picture: GREGG BROWN

Namco Funscape, formerly Solar Bowl, in Sproughton Road has closed Picture: GREGG BROWN

The former Solar Bowl in Sproughton Road, Ipswich has suddenly closed its doors, leaving a number of employees out of a job.

Solar Bowl opening in 1990Solar Bowl opening in 1990

Representatives of Namco Funscape have confirmed the centre closed yesterday (Monday, January 7).

The bowling entertainment centre is located in between Morrisons and the petrol station in Sproughton Road.

According to Bryan Betts on Facebook “staff were told on Sunday not to come back” and when employees turned up for their shift on Monday “they were turned away”.

However the centres supervisor Brad Fillis, said: “Staff were offered two to three more weeks of work to help get everything out.”

Philip Millward, commercial director of Namco UK Ltd, said: “Despite our best efforts and considerable investment into the property the Ipswich location has traded at a significant loss for some years.

“Recent trading has worsened following increased competition in the town centre and continuing to trade the location become unsustainable.”

The centre has previously offered bowling, pool, a sports bar and gaming facilities, alongside hosting group parties.

The closure comes just ten months after the new Superbowl in Ipswich’s Buttermarket opened creating 30 jobs in the town centre.

Namco Funscape was one of three bowling alleys in Ipswich alongside Tenpin in Martlesham and the newly-opened Superbowl UK in the Buttermarket.

Mr Millward continued: “Namco UK are obviously disappointed for the staff concerned and will be consulting with them on their employment options, including potential for transfer to our other trading locations.”

Namco Funscape also operates centres in Braintree, Norwich, Romford and at County Hall in London. The company owns sites in and around Manchester.

In 2015 a planning application was submitted to Ipswich Borough Council requesting a change of use for the Namco Funscape bowling alley to change it from leisure to non-food retail space.

At the time land owners Honeyview Investments Limited insisted that a contract was in place for Namco to occupy the space for the next 15 years and they were simply exploring future possibilities.

In 2015 Honeyview asset manager Carl Minter, said: “We have a long standing relationship with Namco, and it is really looking at potential opportunities in the future.

Honeyview Investments Limited has identified a property solution for the building and Namco are currently working through a notice period to hand back the premises in mid-February.

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