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Health Club Management

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Read our exclusive interview with Frank Reed about his deal to open SWEAT! gyms in Debenhams

CEO, SWEAT!

Published in Health Club Management 2018 issue 9
Frank Reed is rolling out the Sweat! gym concept in standalone locations and also within Debenhams stores
Frank Reed is rolling out the Sweat! gym concept in standalone locations and also within Debenhams stores
We’re offering members the convenience of having a workout and a chance to shop in a lively, welcoming environment

Retailer Debenhams and fitness operator Sweat! have unveiled the opening date for the first of a chain of in-store gyms.

The first club to be operated by the partnership will launch on 10 September 2018 at the Debenhams Sutton store in south west London.

The concept is the brainchild of Frank Reed, fitness industry veteran and one of the original co-founders of the Virgin Active health and fitness business.

Reed says the 17,575sq ft site will offer a “friendly, group-oriented and performance-driven gym experience”.

Facilities will include a large gym floor kitted with Technogym equipment, an immersive cinematic exercise activity area and a number of digital health check points.

The development of the Sutton Sweat! club will be followed by two further sites in Manchester and Bristol, which are earmarked to open in 2019.

The sweat formula
Each in-store club will follow the Sweat! format, which is focused on attracting a predominately 18-33 year-old female membership base – Sweat! reports its customer base is 55 per cent female.

The initiative is part of Debenhams’ strategy to compete with online shopping by delivering in-store experiences.

“Adding a highly innovative leisure facility to our stores is an integral part of our Debenhams Redesigned initiative,” said Sergio Bucher, CEO of Debenhams. “Our aim is to deliver ‘social shopping’ to customers and I’m keen to see their reactions to the Sweat! initiative.”

A first for sweat!
Reed added: ”The Sutton gym in Debenhams will be the sixth in the Sweat! portfolio and our first that is located within a retail environment.

“Through partnering with Debenhams we’re able to offer members the convenience of having a workout and a chance to shop, as well as the opportunity to meet friends in a lively and welcoming environment,” he continued.

“We’re excited to be taking the initiative to key urban cities such as Manchester and Bristol.”

Earning retail credits to spend
The partnership will see gym customers offered shopping incentives, which build up the more they visit the gym and which can then be redeemed in Debenhams against purchases via pre-loaded cards.

Other retail-related benefits for Sweat! members will include automatic enrolment into Debenhams’ Beauty Club.

Debenhams’ link up with Sweat! follows the retailer’s agreement with Blow to provide beauty services and with Maisons du Monde and Swoon to retail homeware.

Sweat! funding
Sweat’s growth is being funded by an injection of £3.75m from equity house Puma Investments in late 2017.

The deal includes an option for a further investment of up to £2.5m (US$3.4m, €2.8m) after 12 months.

Reed says, “We set-up Sweat! because we felt the budget gym sector lacked a fresh, fun and safe environment for women, plus Sweat! appeals to both men and women who want to feel more comfortable about going to the gym.”

Find out more: www.sweatunion.com

Sweat! is taking space in three Debenhams stores, with the option to extend the agreement. Puma Investments is backing the growth plan and roll out with £3.75m worth of investment
Sweat! is taking space in three Debenhams stores, with the option to extend the agreement. Puma Investments is backing the growth plan and roll out with £3.75m worth of investment
Sweat! is taking space in three Debenhams stores, with the option to extend the agreement. Puma Investments is backing the growth plan and roll out with £3.75m worth of investment
Sweat! is taking space in three Debenhams stores, with the option to extend the agreement. Puma Investments is backing the growth plan and roll out with £3.75m worth of investment
Sweat! is taking space in three Debenhams stores, with the option to extend the agreement. Puma Investments is backing the growth plan and roll out with £3.75m worth of investment
Sweat! is taking space in three Debenhams stores, with the option to extend the agreement. Puma Investments is backing the growth plan and roll out with £3.75m worth of investment
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Read our exclusive interview with former Virgin Active CEO Frank Reed about his deal to open SWEAT! gyms in Debenhams
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