News Carom Billiard


Carom Billiard - 3-Cushion - Kozoom Interview

Billiard business in crisis: hard times to survive

Posted by on May 2, 2020

Billiard business in crisis: hard times to survive

© Dirk Acx compilation
Billiard club owners in the low lands: Nico Peeters, Danielle Le Bruyn and Marc Verhaegen

KOZOOM - The stage is global and widespread, but it's no secret that the catering, restaurant and cafe business is one of the hardest hit sectors during this time of crisis. Since the Corona outbreak, the cafe owners have longed for the day when the measures will be more flexible and the doors can be finally opened again. That certainly also applies to cafes that are closely linked to billiard sports. The competitions have been stopped, events are canceled and there is no prospect of a new start. The HCR Prinsen stronghold in Haarlo unexpectedly announced the withdrawal of the top team with Jaspers, Blomdahl and Leppens these days. The water in billiard business is up to the necks.

Kozoom spoke to the owners of two Belgian and one Dutch club who are known from the billiard world. Five questions for three people in the billiard business: silent suffering behind the scenes.

Danielle Le Bruyn of De Ploeg, Zoersel (4 match tables, 6 small billiards).
Nico Peeters of 's Lands Welvaren, Kwadendamme (2 match tables, 2 small tables)
Marc Verhaegen of Op de Meir in Emblem (2 match tables, 1 small table).

Kozoom/Frits Bakker: When did you have to close the doors of your business? And how do your days look like in this big sound of silence?
Danielle Le Bruyn: On March 12, we heard in Belgium that we had to close our café one day later. For an unknown period. We are now on May 1 and have finished almost all the jobs that we had always pushed ahead. The big cleaning, all kinds of defects. Paint here and there (I didn't know I could). And think about tournaments that we want to organize when we start again.
Marc Verhaegen: Mandatory closure from March 14 and we learn to live up with this daily life. We do a walk outside, all kinds of things like cleaning, in our business and in private. The only good thing for us is the social aspect, doing things together, cooking, eating together, watching TV. That's not usual in normal life for couples living in a billiards cafe. It seems like practicing for when we retire. And, we both take care of our mothers, who are in good health.
Nico Peeters: We closed in the Netherlands on Sunday March 15. In the next I started with a major cleaning, maintenance, bringing the drinks back to the brewery, a lot of paperwork and a lot of thinking in the last few weeks. I have an other nice hobby: motorcycling. My collection: four motorcycles, two of which are Harley's. But I have to say, the days are long and quiet, it is unreal what happens.

Kozoom/FB: How long do you participate in billiards and catering business? And how hard is it to deal with this crisis?
Marc Verhaegen: We are in the business since 1983 after taking over from my parents. We have been growing from a small, brown pub to the contemporary billiards concept. I had another hobby myself: motocross at a high level. In 1981 I even was Belgian champion in 500 cc. In the café, we ​​have always had a billiard club. BC Boef was founded in 1930 and restarted in 1946, and is a KBBB member since 1991. The ultimate impact of this crisis is yet to be seen. My best period is currently being lost due to the May and June events being cancelled. We can be sure that it is very tough. The longer it takes, the harder it will get.
Nico Peeters: I am sixteen years in catering and billiards world, from 2004. And the blow of the pandemic is hitting us hard. During the carnival weekend, the parade was cancelled due to a storm. Then, billiards was shut down. Five more events are certainly cancelled due to the crisis. The financial consequences are disastrous.
Danielle Le Bruyn: I have been active in this business since I was 16, first with my parents and now independently for 25 years. No matter how hard this is, we have to get through it and restart as soon as possible. The competition completely stopped, no matches and miss our daily recreationists means no income at all.

Kozoom/FB: What does it mean for the clubs and the teams, and for the sponsors?
Marc Verhaegen: We are active with ten teams in the national league, 4 regional teams at the match table, twelve teams at small table. What the future will bring cannot be said. We have built a healthy basis for our billiard business. with a maximum of shifts. Hopefully this structure will return and remain. The first team is supposed to make a new start, but there are many questions, for example about sponsoring. No need to predict that it will be very difficult.
Nico Peeters: Hard to answer on that qestions. The times are uncertain, for sure to keep our sponsors. They will not have easy times in the coming years. The sponsor money will drop or stop for the near future. That is understandable, they need the money badly themselves. As for the teams, we have nine teams on the small table, ten on the match table, including one premier league three cushion and one premier league top team.
Danielle Le Bruyn: In our business we have a total of 32 teams from BC De Ploeg and De Goeie Queue playing in the competition, five ADL (Antwerp League) teams and three friends clubs in a mutual competition. We hope that we can start the new season again with our teams and sponsors.

Kozoom/FB: Do you get financial support from the government, so that you can survive for these months?
Marc Verhaegen: The government foresees a one-time premium support of 4000 euros (first period). For the second period we're not yet certain, but a daily gift of 160 euros is provided. Everyone has to make an invoice for himself. Survival will succeed, the question is what the billiards and business landscape will look like after Corona.
Danielle Le Bruyn: We get some support, but it doesn't cover all the costs. This shouldn't take long to let us survive.
Nico Peeters: The government provides support, but it is insufficient to pay the monthly charges. There is no income, costs continue and the wealth is shrinking. A new package of help is on the way. It is highly uncertain for the clubs and the teams. The members and players have many questions. Measures are needed for the business, otherwise it won't end well, I fear.

Kozoom/FB: What do you expect from the first period that billiards starts again and the business can be opened, and the case can be reopened with all kinds of measures for players and visitors?
Marc Verhaegen: What the government says, it's possible that we will open on 8 June, which is still a big doubt mark for me. I am a moderate optimist. Somewhere, the business will gradually open. But only outside, with terraces, in restaurants, with sufficient distance. Big crouds, many people in a small room, like in cafes, will not yet be allowed. It is a sacred shock, rightly so, of course health takes precedence. The question remains whether the cafes will be profitable. You can play billiards with two people, but that's not all. It will only go back to normal with the discovery of the vaccine and/or medicine. Spring 2021? Of course, I don't hope to lose customers, getting more is a utopia. The aging of billiards has been going up for many years. How do these people deal with the new situation. Only time will tell.
Nico Peeters: The 1.5 meter economy will be difficult in our business. The billiard players are generally a bit older, so a risk group. I have enough room in my café for two men to play and train at the match tables. For matches in the district, at the small table, I foresee problems.
Spectators will not be allowed to come yet. In short, we're facing hard times for the billiard federation. They will have to inventory and decide how to continue with our sport.
Danielle Le Bruyn: I live up to my mixed expectations. Many customers and players will return with pleasure. With a somewhat older audience, it will be less at the start. We will see what measures will be need to take. Eating and drinking with a mouth mask will not be easy.

Thanks to all of you for the interviews, good luck and take care (Kozoom).

Danielle Le Bruijn in her billiards cafe with two world champions: Orie Hida (l) and Therese Klompenhouwer (m).

Marc Verhaegen, in a former life: Belgian champion 500 cc motorcross in 1981

Nico Peeters, spending the time with another hobby: four motorcycles, of which 2 Harley's




Back to All News

My Comments

Be the first to post a comment

Post new comment

Log in or register now to leave a comment

Forgot your password?

Don’t have an account yet?

Sign up now for free to post comments, add your photos, partipate in our forums and receive exclusive Newsletter.

Then you can get a Premium Pass for a full Live and Video access.

Join Kozoom