The Play Providers Association

Industry Information

The indoor play market in the UK is a highly fragmented, fledgling Industry. The first indoor play centre was built around 15 years ago and since then the industry has grown to well over 600 independently operated sites. Many pubs and restaurants feature indoor play equipment but certainly in more recent years, the independent operator has started to dominate the industry.

A so called “new breed” of operators has entered the market, many based on successful models from the USA and Europe with a view to making the Children's Activity Centres built in the future, of better standards and quality of that of their predecessors. The aim of many operators is to turn play centres into a wider visitor attraction appealing to a wide age bracket. This in turn brought about the need to establish a standards focused trade body to represent play operators on various standard committees to raise perception of play operators within the leisure sector and work to become the voice of the industry and lobby government on their behalf.

The industry currently has a wide range of opportunities, with the benefits of play in a child's development being recognised on a wider level.

Key US Research

It is widely understood that the US market is around 15 years ahead of the UK and in that respect the industry has consolidated to larger adventure parks and a chain of family activity centres. Soft Play only exists in isolation in very small sites. On the health benefits side, a 1995 research paper by Whitehurst, Groo and Brown concluded that the mean heart rate during play was 77% of maximum.

Key Market Indicators

It is widely believed that the industry is experiencing growth for a number of reasons…

  • Parents are seeking a safe and secure environment for their children to play in away from the risk of stranger danger, knife crime and abduction
  • The is a growing need to encourage energetic free play moving away from static screen based entertainment.
  • Leisure spending has increased to around 20% of total UK consumer expenditure
  • An increased need for city children to play
  • The growing problem of the rise in obesity in children.
  • By catering for the demands of a new urban generation of parents who crave comfortable surroundings and luxuries in their leisure experience

PPA Locator


Play Providers Association, Rural Innovation Centre, Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth, Warwickshire, CV8 2LG
Tel +44 (0)24 7641 4999 ::