Soft play centres are hit hard by coronavirus lockdown

Soft play centres are hit hard by coronavirus lockdown

10/22/2020

Soft play centres are hit hard by coronavirus lockdown with around three folding every week since March – as counselling service is launched for tearful owners

  • Around 100 have folded since March 23 according to Association of Indoor Play
  • Chairman Janice Dunphy said they even had had to set up a counselling service 
  • Soft play centre owner Nicola Nuttall invested £3,000 but still had to close

Scores of soft play centres are going broke in the pandemic. And many more of them are on the brink, warn those working in the industry.

‘Businesses in this industry are dropping like flies,’ said Nicola Nuttall, who runs a soft play centre in Lancashire.

According to an industry body, the Association of Indoor Play, around 100 – two or three each week – have folded since the country locked down on March 23. There are around 1,100 in the country. 

Janice Dunphy, chairman of AIP, said they had had to set up a counselling service after being deluged by calls from tearful owners worried for their staff and livelihoods

Nicola Nuttall, 50, said her centre, Giddy Kippers, in Nelson, near Burnley, (pictured) had managed to open for just three weeks and three days since the first lockdown

Janice Dunphy, chairman of AIP, said they had had to set up a counselling service after being deluged by calls from tearful owners worried for their staff and livelihoods.

‘We’ve seen multiple closures,’ said Mrs Dunphy, who runs the Web Adventure Park in York. 

‘It will be a sector that is lost completely unless we receive government help. Most members have gone through the bounce back loans because they have effectively been closed for six months.’

She said some landlords were ‘effectively bullying our members out of business’ and suppliers were ‘getting twitchy and refusing to give credit’.

‘Businesses in this industry are dropping like flies,’ said Nicola Nuttall

She added: ‘I don’t understand why play centres have to close. As far as I know there hasn’t been an outbreak resulting from a centre anywhere in the country.’ 

Mrs Nuttall, 50, said her centre, Giddy Kippers, in Nelson, near Burnley, had managed to open for just three weeks and three days since the first lockdown.

Despite investing at least £3,000 in making the business Covid safe, she was forced to close again after Tier Three restrictions were imposed on Lancashire on Monday.

‘I’ve not sat down and worked out how long we can go on for, I don’t want to if I’m honest because I might cry,’ she said. 

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