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Likely Fitness First break-up to include sale of Asian and Australian gyms

Likely Fitness First break-up to include sale of Asian and Australian gyms
August 10, 2016

Virgin Active Health Clubs and Chinese private equity firms are reportedly among a group of potential buyers for Fitness First’s Asian and Australian gyms, as the break-up of the international chain looks increasingly likely.

Once the United Kingdom’s biggest fitness club operator as well as being one of the world’s largest gym chains, Fitness First’s American owners, Oaktree Capital Management and Marathon Asset Management are reported to be dividing up the group for sale following years of poor performance in the face of cheaper rivals.

With discussions reportedly well advance for sale of Fitness First’s UK clubs to sports retailer and rival fitness club operator DW Sports, HSBC has been appointed to find buyers for the Asian and Australian sites.

Virgin Active Health Clubs’ interest reportedly stems from recently advised plans for a rapid expansion in Asia following its takeover last year by Brait Capital, controlled by South African billionaire Christo Wiese.

The chain, which still counts Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin as an investor, reportedly wants to spend US$200 million in the region.

Chinese private equity firms, including CDH, are also monitoring the likely sale.

Fitness First opened seven new sites in Asia during 2015 and revenues were almost double that generated in the Britain during 2015. The group’s Asian operations reportedly generate a healthy 10% operating margin.

Fitness First’s Australian operations have been rebranded and moved upmarket over recent years and reportedly generate a smaller operating margin of around 3%.

Globally, Fitness First currently has more than 300 gyms, including 67 in Australia, 84 in Germany, 95 in Asia (including 17 in Singapore and eight in India).

Fitness First’s Middle Eastern operations, where it now has more than 60 clubs, are managed under licence by the Landmark Group.

2nd July 2016 - TAKEOVER OF FITNESS FIRST’S UK CLUBS COULD PROMPT CARVE UP OF GLOBAL CHAIN

8th April 2016 - OWNERS LOOK AT SALE OF FITNESS FIRST’S GLOBAL OPERATIONS

24th January 2016 - FITNESS FIRST MARKS 10 YEARS IN THE MIDDLE EAST

31st August 2015 - FITNESS FIRST OPENS EXCLUSIVE GRAVITY CLUB IN SINGAPORE

23rd June 2015 - FITNESS FIRST TO INVEST $20 MILLION IN AUSTRALIAN CLUBS 

7th August 2014 - FITNESS FIRST AUSTRALIA SELLS WEST AUSTRALIAN CLUBS TO ARDENT LEISURE

16th January 2014 - FITNESS FIRST TO MOVE BRAND UPMARKET WITH $490 MILLION GLOBAL REVAMP

10th May 2012 - FORMER INTERCONTINENTAL HOTELS GROUP CHIEF EXECUTIVE TO LEAD FITNESS FIRST


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