The new complex will be set up next to the YoYo indoor playground (pictured) in Howald; Credit: 1COM Group recently had the opportunity to sit down with Steve Darne, General Manager at 1COM Group Luxembourg, to learn about the group's expansion plans.

1COM Group runs a number of restaurants and fitness and entertainment venues in Luxembourg. The group is now renovating the warehouse next to its YoYo indoor playground in Howald to house a sports restaurant and bowling alleys.

Looking back at the inception of 1COM and its evolution over time, the company started over 20 years ago with initially two partners, who were separated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Steve Darne now manages 1COM and its future on his own. The company currently counts over 100 employees, with this number increasing to about 250 in summer - 1COM operates the Schwarzwaldhaus restaurant at the Schueberfouer annual funfair. Various other outlets run by 1COM include Ikki, Le Sud and Rock Box (among other restaurants) in Luxembourg-Clausen, as well as Fitness Zone, YoYo, Global Properties and Concept Company in Howald, to name but a few.

Regarding future expansion plans, Steve Darne noted that renovations and construction works are planned for Schwarzwaldhaus (Schueberfouer). The major new project is "Strike", a future sports restaurant and arcade with fourteen bowling alleys, pool tables, cocktail bars, a darts areas, escape games "and more", spread across three floors and over 2,000 m2. Quiz nights are also in the pipeline.

This new entertainment complex represents a total investment of €3 million and will be set up in the old storage warehouse beside YoYo in Howald. Steve Darne explained that children often lose interest in the indoor playground after the age of ten. As such, the new initiative aims to "provide a new dimension of entertainment" and a "cooler space" for teenagers and parents, a kind of "chameleon" space that appeals to a wide audience.

When asked if he had conducted market research or analysis to guide the expansion of 1COM or if these decisions were influenced by factors such as the growth of nearby complexes, Steve Darne described the expansion as "growth by opportunity", based on "gut feeling" but also "obligation". He explained that separation from his former business partner "meant there was a need to justify the retained staff and to cover the costs that the COVID-19 period brought."

Elaborating on the impact of the pandemic on 1COM's operations and customer trends / behaviour, Steve Darne described customer behaviour as "inconsistent" and "hard to predict". He added that this was not only due to COVID-19 but also war, inflation and less purchasing power. Nonetheless, this unpredictability has made it "difficult to plan ahead". Numbers have not yet returned to pre-COVID levels and "everything has gotten more expensive, more complicated", he confirmed.

Asked about any innovative strategies or initiatives that 1COM is implementing to stay ahead in the market and meet evolving customer demands, Steve Darne explained that "the basis was always customer satisfaction". He emphasised the importance of quality, "patience when a problem arises", teamwork and cleanliness "to be as perfect as humanly possible". He said it also depends on the market and banks' interest.

Looking forward to the next three to four years, he noted that 1COM is aiming to create an indoor/outdoor karting facility for families; possibly also opening a hotel one day. Other projects in the pipeline include renovating the Aka Cité flagship restaurant in Luxembourg-Ville; Steve Darne noted that it "means a lot to me that it remains a leader in the market".