Was Cherry Street Sports the only respondent to the EOI request?
Club Lennox sent out a proposal for expressions of interest which was first published by ClubsNSW on 24th August 2021, covering a 200km radius.
The financials were requested by four clubs within this parameter and one expression of interest was received. The remaining clubs withdrew interest due to several reasons including:
tenant lease agreement – Club Lennox does not own the land in which the building and bowling greens are situated, Ballina Shire Council retain ownership of the land and so any future investment would be dependent on their approval, guidance and support.
the priority of current projects for their own premises
the requirement for Club Lennox to be the ‘child’ company within the working agreement
the ongoing financials along with the overhead and operational costs required for the upgrade of Club Lennox
The decision was made by the Board and advisors that Cherry St and Club Lennox were similarly aligned in the future direction and sustainability of the Club for the growing Lennox community.
Under the guidance and support from Cherry St Sports, Club Lennox aims to move towards a profit for purpose business model where the Lennox Head community will be the beneficiaries. The priority being to improve the lives of the members and community we live in.
All members can vote, and Club Lennox will always have bowling facilities.
Why did Cherry Street respond - what motivates or makes it an attractive proposition for them?
The Board and Management of Cherry St Sports understand, from their own growth and success, the importance of community clubs in our community.
Cherry St Sports don’t want to see Lennox Head lose their Club and hope to replicate what Cherry St Sports has implemented but with a hyper-localised flavour so the Lennox community and affiliate groups can benefit the same way Ballina has. Club Lennox will become an asset to the community and be in a position to really support our affiliate clubs, and be able to give back considerably, financially and otherwise.
Cherry St Sports has played a huge role in improving the lives of members and the community and want to replicate this same success in Lennox Head.
Cherry St Sports can see there is an opportunity to work with Club Lennox to further grow a community-based club, by providing management and guidance to create efficiencies and shared services, working towards a successful and sustainable Club Lennox, with the aim to support the community with a profit for purpose mentality.
Cherry St Sports Board and Management have committed to investing into the redevelopment of Club Lennox to provide an all-purpose facility which aims specifically to benefit our community and affiliate groups for future years.
Cherry St Sports will continue to provide the same environment and facilities Club Lennox currently offers, along with enhanced facilities and a high level of customer service.
The Board and Management of both Club Lennox and Cherry St Sports have been working closely to ensure the amalgamation is in the best interest of the community and Club Lennox retains its identity as our local club.
Is the current financial predicament due to one-off exceptional circumstances including COVID or is it a more systemic issue?
Club Lennox has unfortunately been at the mercy of several contributing factors since the reopening in 2013.
Initially, on departure of Ramsgate, the Club inherited operational and repair costs to an already tired building, as well as the ongoing overheads and upkeep of both the building, maintenance and bowling greens.
Following the success of the Club Lennox Festivals on the Green in 2018, and the subsequent complaints and legal fees, plus the inability to then secure a DA to continue these community events, this resulted in an approximate $100,000 difference to our bottom line.
Once again due to the restrictions around trading on the Green, Club Lennox has been able to trade ‘business as usual’, yet has not been able to increase revenue with new business and special events due to the venue not providing a multi-purpose facility for said events.
With the current layout, should Club Lennox wish to host special events or private functions for our community members, the Bistro would then be unavailable for service, which has not been a decision taken lightly by our members. This additional revenue would have provided for enhanced facilities such as IT systems and member / reward management platforms, as well as upgraded amenities and processes.
These enhanced systems and operations would provide Club Lennox the opportunity to be able to increase functionality and operations to cater for our growing community, allowing the club to then contribute considerably back to our affiliate clubs both financially and as a facility to host special events and private celebrations.
Considerable repairs and maintenance have been required over time which the Club has not had the funds to pay for and so an ongoing upkeep or bandaiding has been the solution to ensure the Club remains trading. The Club has three bathrooms requiring major renovations as well as an air-conditioning system that needs replacement at circa $110,000 across the entire venue to ensure patron comfort. An outdoor area with suitable coverage is also an essential item for the venue’s future.
Amalgamation with a like-minded community club is the most effective way we can maintain our community asset whilst finding efficiencies in overall club operations. This venture would improve the financial viability of Club Lennox by consolidating administration, operational costs, membership and cementing the future of Club Lennox. Not to mention the renovations the venue desperately needs for compliance and comfort for our members and guests.
Why, apart from historical reasons, is bowls specifically listed as a future focus?
Club Lennox is a community sports club and per the charter will always provide a sporting facility to the Lennox Head community. As part of the agreement with Council, the land is leased under the premise that the Club will provide for the sport of Lawn Bowls.
Will the upcoming AGM held at a day and time to maximise the representation of the full cross section of community membership?
The AGM will be held, as usual, on a Sunday to allow for all local affiliate clubs to have representation as well as community members.
We encourage all members and groups of the Lennox Head Community to attend where possible to have your vote counted.
Is the club privately owned?
Club Lennox is a community-based club and is owned by the members.
The land on which the Club is situated is Crown Land and is managed by Ballina Shire Council.
If the amalgamation proceeds Club Lennox will still be a community based club owned by the members as is Cherry Street Sports club. Given the close proximity of Cherry Street Sports, there is likely to be a degree of commonality with Club Lennox members.
How does a Club find themselves in this situation?
Club Lennox strives to be financially responsible whilst improving the amenity of the club, however, as noted above, Club Lennox does not have sufficient capital to undertake the works required to maintain and improve the facilities and is unable to obtain loan funding to do so. In the absence of a capital injection, Club Lennox will continue to struggle to meet maintenance costs and utilities will most likely become more costly due to poor, energy inefficient, infrastructure. Further, the operations of Club Lennox would be less efficient if it were not able to invest in IT systems etc.
Will there continue to be poker machines?
Cherry Street Sports acknowledges that there is a small percentage of people in the community that are at risk of gambling harm and so has implemented many responsible gambling measures to prevent any such harms. Cherry Street Sports is a responsible provider of gambling services to those patrons that choose to gamble responsibly.
If current operational services and staffing levels have not allowed for the provision of contingency and capital works funding, why would Cherry Street accept any condition that they be continued?
Cherry Street Sports has the capital to inject into the venue to resolve existing maintenance issues and improve the venue infrastructure over time (eg. building and IT systems).
Improvements to the venue would allow the venue to trade more profitably by increased revenue, lower wage costs and lower utility and administration costs. Lennox Head is poised for growth and under an amalgamation scenario, Club Lennox would benefit from that growth with a fit for purpose venue run by a profit for purpose community club owned by its members. Club Lennox would still be “your local club”.
Should Club Lennox place conditions on Cherry Street Sports for the amalgamation considering the position?
Cherry Street Sports expects that the venue could trade viably with infrastructure improvements, centralised administration and governance, economies of scale and increased buying power. A memorandum of understanding will be negotiated by the respective clubs’ board of directors in the best interest of members.
If amalgamation didn’t work in the past, why is it the solution now?
As above. Cherry Street Sports is an established hospitality operator and will deliver to Club Lennox the level of customer service that members expect.