Over 12 months on from the opening of Playworld and the multi-faceted indoor entertainment complex has developed a strong reputation having already secured Number One spot on TripAdvisor for ‘Things to do in Huddersfield’. FMCG recently caught up with Raj Handa, Managing Director, to see how this almost instantaneous success has been achieved.
“We’re from the Huddersfield area and as we’ve got kids ourselves we knew that there was a real lack of quality children’s play venues locally,” explains Mr Handa. “Having identified a gap in the market we decided to develop a facility that was significantly better than what was available. We’d taken our own kids to play gyms and other venues and never enjoyed the experience; we’d always be sitting there wanting to get out as quickly as possible! On top of that, within Huddersfield there were no rollerblading facilities either. We’d seen just how popular the Roller Derby in Derby was and were interested in bringing something similar to Huddersfield, in addition to providing soft play areas and a catering provision for banqueting.
“We looked at various sites before deciding on the right one so it was a fairly extensive process. There were many different factors to take into consideration, such as the provision for car parking, size of the site and the location. The site we finally chose had been disused for about five years so required some considerable work to get it up to the standard we were looking for. We’ve made sure the venue is really nicely kitted out and well maintained as it makes a tremendous difference.”
After a year of development and refurbishment Playworld opened in June 2014 with the centrepiece of the 12,000 sq ft complex being a roller skating rink able to accommodate up to 120 skaters at once. Other features include a four-storey soft play gym with ball pool and slides, which can accommodate up to 160 children up to the age of ten years old. The soft play gym also features a section suitable for younger children. The 240-seat world street restaurant, meanwhile, has a fully equipped, state-of-the-art kitchen.
“We have placed particular emphasis on the food offering and have gone for a world buffet-type menu encompassing a wide range of different cuisine including Indian, Oriental and American. We have four chefs in the kitchen from all over the world to really lend a strong flavour of authenticity.”
Raj Handa, Managing Director
A year on from opening and Playworld has quickly developed a strong presence within the marketplace thanks to the strong focus on quality within all the separate elements within the complex.
“We have placed particular emphasis on the food offering and have gone for a world buffet-type menu encompassing a wide range of different cuisine including Indian, Oriental and American,” adds Mr Handa. “We have four chefs in the kitchen from all over the world to really lend a strong flavour of authenticity. One’s from India and has worked at many of the Five Star hotels in India, one’s from Italy, and one’s an oriental specialist; so the food is an area that we take extremely seriously. We have considerable experience in this area due to our existing hotel operation, which gives us a lot of stability, as we have a mixture of businesses. It also strengthens our hand with suppliers as we’ve got stronger buying power.
“We also use local suppliers where we can. For instance Denby Dale Coffee supplies our coffee and we also use a local butcher for our fresh meats. We have experience of operating hotels within the group so we already had many existing supplier relationships that we could draw on.”
A year down the line and the theory that there was a gap in the market has been proven well and truly correct with the reaction from customers having been overwhelmingly positive. “We’ve been very busy and as word has spread beyond Huddersfield we’ve seen visitors coming from as far afield as York, Leeds, Wakefield, Bradford and Manchester, which we’ve been able to monitor through our TripAdvisor reviews, which have been overwhelmingly positive,” says Mr Handa.
As well as the increased footfall that TripAdvisor has been able to generate, Playworld has also been proactively using other social media to raise awareness including Facebook, on which it has over 3,000 likes.
Keen to capitalise further on the success of the Huddersfield site, Mr Handa is now looking to replicate the concept in other locations. “We’re already in talks about potentially doing another one. We’d hope to have this in place within the next 18 months so watch this space!”
If the original Huddersfield site is anything to go by then any future Playworld venue can expect to be every bit as successful.