The demise of a Dubbo bowling club has “devastated” its members and staff, the former general manager reports as she issued a grim warning about the outlook for some parts of the industry.
Shae Hutchins forecast small registered clubs would struggle to survive in the future unless they amalgamated.
She was general manager of Dubbo Railway Bowling Club, trading as Sporties Dubbo, which was placed into liquidation on February 27, after entering voluntary administration in November.
Mrs Hutchins said she had been working to lift the bowling club out of financial troubles after she took on the role in 2016.
Its closure had resulted in her and another 14 staff being made redundant and was a blow to the close-knit community of 90 bowlers and the employees.
“We’re all devastated,” Mrs Hutchins said.
“...We’re all jobless at the moment and the bowlers are devastated because everyone just wore their heart on their sleeve for that place.”
Mrs Hutchins told of her work to secure an alternative place for the Railway bowlers.
She met with board members and the general manager of the Macquarie Club and reported Macquarie “took us on with open arms”.
...the bowlers are devastated because everyone just wore their heart on their sleeve for that place.Former Sporties Dubbo general manager Shae Hutchins
Railway bowlers will make the Macquarie Club their home ground for this year’s pennants season, and then next year play under the Macquarie colours, she said.
“So to move them over made sense because it will be better for their club as well, bring a whole new community through the place, it will build it up a little more,” Mrs Hutchins said.
“And they have welcomed us with open arms.
“More credit to them, really, we’re very thankful they allowed that and they’ve started to do things to make us feel at home as well.”
The most recent 2015 NSW Club census showed 33 per cent of clubs in the state were showing signs of financial distress, Clubs NSW reported in December.
Mrs Hutchins, who had 12 years’ experience in the industry, said it was not necessarily bowling clubs, but "little clubs in general" that were struggling.
She contested they did not have enough money backing behind them.
“So, finding your niche, looking forward enough to have a look at your revenue building things, like your real estate, gyms, that sort of stuff,” she said.
“You don’t make money off memberships, you need people walking through those doors and that’s why you see the big clubs with their hotels and motels, cabins, child-minding, they’re branching off and finding other things because that revenue stream is always going to come in.”
She noted that Dubbo had, until last month, four bowling clubs, and said the city was "not big enough for four".
"...And that’s the way it is, your big clubs will get bigger, unless they amalgamate and pull the little clubs out, you’re going to lose your little clubs, because they just can’t fight against the big clubs," Mrs Hutchins said.