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Anytime Fitness to open 100 gyms across the Middle East

December 3, 2012
US-based fitness club franchisor Anytime Fitness has revealed plans to open 100 gyms across the Middle East in the next five to seven years as part of an ambitious US$50 million expansion drive.
The brand, which opened its first gym in Doha, Qatar earlier this year, has signed a master franchise deal with Almuftah Marketing, a division of the Doha-based conglomerate Almuftah Group.
Anytime Fitness International Development Vice President John Kersh explained "we intend to expand across the entire Middle East (and) our expectation is to have 100 clubs operating within the foreseeable future."
Capital for the clubs will be primarily raised by Almuftah Fitness, with an average cost of US$500,000 per facility.
The deal marks the first leisure venture for privately-held Almuftah, which counts Pizza Hut and Arby's among its existing franchise portfolio.
Group Director Ali A Almuftah explains "we plan to introduce Anytime Fitness all over the Middle East and GCC countries.
"Our first step will be moving to the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and we plan to have 100 clubs open within five-seven years if the political situation allows."
Anytime Fitness operates more than 1,700 gyms across 11 countries and its expansion in the Arabian Gulf and Middle East will see group compete directly with the Fitness First currently the region's biggest fitness club chain.
Unaffected by the cost cutting and restricting affecting its European and Australian operations, Fitness First has its own aggressive expansion plans in the region being undertaken in partnership with Dubai's Landmark Group with plans to roll out 100 new branches in the region over the next five years.
Landmark, which acquired the franchise after purchasing a subsidiary of Saudi leisure company Al Hokair Group, plans to spend AED500 million (US $136 million) on expanding the chain, which currently has 32 clubs in the region.
The chain recently opened its third club in Saudi Arabia, and has plans for 35 facilities in the United Arab Emirates.
Fitness First Middle East Chief Operating Officer George Flooks explained "we've got 13 clubs in the UAE at the moment (and) we aim to spread our footprint to 37 clubs across the Middle East by the end of 2012.
"Our strategic expansion in key locations that lack fitness facilities also reflects our commitment to offering convenient and world-class options to communities in the Middle East."

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