Popular India game arcade shuts down as pandemic hits business - sources

By Vibhuti Sharma

BENGALURU, Sept 22 (Reuters) - 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 company, which has counted cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar as its brand ambassador for years, operates in more than 40 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 Sept. 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, 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 3 billion rupees 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.

(Reporting by Vibhuti Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Ramakrishnan M.)

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