Covid-19 takes it toll, SMAASH to shut down

Popular Indian gaming and entertainment centre operator Smaaash Entertainment is shutting down, according to an internal email and sources in the company, as few choose to hang out in its arcades amid surging coronavirus cases.

The countrywide lockdown and subsequent economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic centres has forced the company to close all the 45 SMAAASH centres across the country.

The company, which has counted cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar as its brand ambassador for years, operates in more than 45 locations across 19 cities in India and used to be a popular hangout for urban teens and tweens before coronavirus lockdowns and fears forced them indoors.

In a letter to the company’s employees dated September 15 and reviewed by Reuters, founder Shripal Morakhia said: “I am sorry that despite my best efforts I have failed in my efforts to save the company from its premature death.” The email did not give other details.

Smaaash, which offered popular pastimes like bowling, cricket, dance-off and other games, did not get funding from investors, Shripal Morakhia said.

He did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment on phone, email and LinkedIn.

Smaaash’s shutdown comes just months after media reports said the company crossed Rs 3 billion in sales in 2019 about seven years after it opened its first outlet. The Economic Times had earlier reported about the closure of the company.

Since the business arenas, malls and sports activities were halted to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, SMAAASH business had come to a screeching halt. Finding hard to pull the business through this economic turmoil the company decided to pull the plug.

All the amusement, entertainment and gaming centres were being shut.

SMAAASH, launched in 2012 by Shripal Morakhia, was endorsed by Sachin Tendulkar, then India’s leading brand icon.

The company had two centres in Mumbai at Lower Parel and Ghatkopar with the former spread across a 120,000 square feet area. The Lower Parel centre was extremely popular with cricket lovers as it offered an indoor facility to play. The bowling machines were programmed to deliver balls in the manner like Shane Warne, Wasim Akram and Lasith Malinga.

SMAAASH, with simulation sports technology, offered virtual reality experience and music-based entertainment opportunities.

The centres also had motor racing, go-karting and bike racing simulators.