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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

Franchise briefing

There’s no sign of the UK’s franchise fitness sector cooling down. It’s not just existing operators looking to add to their burgeoning portfolios – new operators are queueing up to enter the market. Tom Walker reports

By Tom Walker, Leisure Media | Published in HCM Handbook 2019 issue 1
New entrant to the franchising market, Snap Fitness is pushing for 250 clubs
New entrant to the franchising market, Snap Fitness is pushing for 250 clubs
The UK fitness industry is teeming with franchised brands – over the last five years it’s been particularly driven by boutique and budget operators

The UK fitness industry is now teeming with franchised brands. Ranging in size from niche operators with a handful of sites to giants such as Anytime Fitness (150 clubs) and énergie (106 clubs), a quick count shows that there are close to 30 companies with some franchising element available for entrepreneurs.

The pace of growth has been particularly rapid over the past five years, driven by a number of boutique and budget operators entering the market with ambitious franchising plans. The new entrants include large operators such as Snap Fitness, which is now in the fourth year of an expansion push, aiming to reach 250 clubs.

As well as those with big plans, the franchising model has attracted smaller, independently-owned chains. These include Fitness Space, launched by former Olympian Tim Benjamin, which has expanded to 22 sites in five years, and fitness and social brand One Element, which has revealed plans to use franchising to take its sports-based, outdoor fitness programmes outside of London for the first time since its launch 12 years ago.

FROM OVERSEAS
Some of the biggest players to enter the market have arrived from foreign shores. Australia-based Jetts Fitness has made a solid start to life in the UK, since entering the market in September 2017.

“In just over 12 months, we will have launched seven clubs into what is a fiercely competitive market,” says Jetts Fitness UK director James Garner. Founded in 2007 by husband and wife team Brendon and Cristy Levenson, Jetts has established itself in the Australian market by expanding rapidly through a franchise model and now has more than 210 sites down under.

Another newcomer with big plans is US-based UFC Gym, which has revealed plans to open 100 fitness clubs across the UK and Ireland. The US-based chain – a brand extension of the world’s largest mixed martial arts organisation, The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) – has signed a 10-year partnership with TD Lifestyle, which will operate the sites.

In March 2018, two other US-based fitness franchises entered the UK with plans to carve out a share of the market. The first was Omni Fight Club, the cardio kickboxing experience that operates under the slogan ‘Fun Tough Fitness’. The company appointed property specialist Savills to seek its first UK sites as part of the brand’s expansion into Europe.

Omni’s entry was followed by Xponential Fitness, which currently owns a number of franchised boutique brands, including Club Pilates, indoor cycling concept CycleBar, indoor rowing business Row House and StretchLab, which offers personalised stretching services. Xponential said it plans to take its portfolio of brands global through a master franchise strategy it signed with entrepreneur Oliver Chipp. Chipp expects to open at least 30 CycleBar studios in UK over the next five years, and the first studio opened in London in 2018.

There could be more on their way too. Fifteen-time boxing world champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. is in the process of setting up a chain of fitness clubs. In July 2018, his venture, Mayweather Boxing + Fitness, revealed details of a franchising and international territory rights programme, which it says will “enable it to expand the brand globally”.

“Our goal is to have Mayweather Boxing + Fitness studios in neighbourhoods all over the world, providing fitness programmes for anyone who wants to train more effectively,” Mayweather says.

IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT LONDON
While the UK market is attracting a number of new players, there is plenty of activity being undertaken by those with an established footprint. One of the biggest players in the franchise market, énergie Fitness, has a solid pipeline.

“We can comfortably grow anywhere between 30 and 50 new sites a year,” says Jan Spaticchia, énergie’s founder and executive chair.

“We will, over the next two years, get into a comfortable pace of around 45-50 new clubs per year. And we can continue to do that for our five year outlook.”

The UK’s biggest franchise operator Anytime Fitness is still growing too. “Our goal is to have more than 300 clubs by 2023,” says CEO Stuart Broster.

He adds that making “greater inroads” to north England, outside of its powerbase in London and the south of England, will be a priority for its expansion plans.

“A lot of the clubs we opened in 2018 were outside of London, so that was a huge positive,” he says. “A lot of what we do is dictated by property availability. With high street retailers feeling the pinch in this current economic climate, we have seen some great opportunities open for us in prime locations.”

Broster also reveals that the company has found securing sites outside London to be a slightly different experience to the process within the capital.

“The model and club fitout are the same, it’s just about finding the right property,” he explains. “Outside of London, amenities like free parking are more important to the consumer and franchisees. Culture also plays a part. Our ethos of creating community-led clubs has an increased significance outside of cities where people have more time. Members’ dwell time in the clubs is increased and there’s a greater focus on member engagement and owning their local community.”

One of the new entrants to have accelerated its UK growth plans in 2018 is US-based boutique operator Orangetheory. Following a somewhat slow start in the UK – it initially signed a partnership deal with David Lloyd Leisure in 2013 but only opened three sites – the brand has now signed two master deals for a total of 110 franchised sites, covering all of England.

“We are putting a lot of focus on the UK,” says Dan Adelstein, Orangetheory’s vice president of franchise development.

“We’re looking to open 70 in the southern part of England and a further 40 in the north. Out of those, six were operating by the end of 2018 and we expect to have a total of 12 operating by the end of 2019.”

One of the fastest growing franchised brands in the UK – and the world – is Australia-based F45. It currently has more than 1,300 locations worldwide and has been busy on the European market over the past 12 months. It recently opened its first sites in Switzerland, Finland, the Czech Republic, Lebanon and Israel – with plans also in place to launch in Germany.

“We are now operating in 35 countries, but the focus is very much on the US and UK markets,” says Rob Deutsch.

“In the UK and Europe, we’re aiming to sell 185 franchises during 2019, and a further 350 in 2020. In the UK, our long-term goal is to have a studio in almost every corner of the country. We’ve already expanded significantly in London over the past two years, with almost 30 studios open, and this is still very much the focus.

“Short term, we’re also focusing on innercity hubs outside of the capital.”

To drive its UK and European plans, F45 launched a UK headquarters in London in August 2018. “Opening our European headquarters in London was a very important and exciting move for us,” Deutsch adds. “London is a strategically important market for the business, as the fitness industry continues to grow in both size and value. The new HQ will play an integral role in helping to expand across new markets and countries.

“It’s also a great way of showcasing our business model to prospective investors; its central location and close proximity to existing UK and European franchisees means that we can offer more support and help them to drive business. It’s given us a local presence as we are near many of the studios, so investors can come and get a feel for the brand, visit existing F45 studios and try the classes.”

THE FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT
So how much more growth can the UK fitness market accommodate? Lots, according to the operators.

“We definitely see an opportunity to continue to grow at our current levels”, says énergie’s Spaticchia. “We feel very lucky because we are on the cusp of two very hot markets. The budget fitness space is very hot from an investment point of view but, equally, fitness franchising has never been hotter.

“So while we have to deal with the environment getting more competitive, I think the fact that so many international franchises are heading for the UK has really shown that this is very furtive growth ground.”

Spaticchia adds that there remain plenty of areas to expand into. “Some of our clubs are in populations or towns as small as 20,000 or 25,000 people,” he explains. “For example, our Hoddesdon club is in a population of 20,000 people and yet it has 2,500 members and our franchisee makes annual profits. There are many more towns like Hoddesdon we can go into – and some haven’t got any real level of competition.”

Anytime’s Broster agrees and adds that, as well as the increasing demand from consumers, there’s also growing interest from entrepreneurs for getting involved in the fitness business. “The growth in the market is reflected by the eclectic franchisee network that we have,” he says.

“People are recognising the fitness industry as a sustainable investment and a lot of our franchisees have an existing portfolio of high-street hospitality franchises – such as Costa Coffee and Subway, for example.

“They’ve turned to fitness as it has a number of benefits, including lower staffing models, a smaller focus on attracting new customers and – as has been shown in the past few years – the fact that the industry is still growing despite the recession.”

For Orangetheory’s Adelstein, there is plenty of room for growth – especially for those with smaller-format clubs and studios. “I definitely see an increased demand for boutique fitness,” he says. “The boutique format is really taking over the big box.

“I feel that people are increasingly looking to spend less time at the gym and not ‘waste time’ – they are looking for results and looking for someone to work with them. But it also has to be reasonably priced. And that’s what we try to accomplish.”

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
Anytime Fitness aims to have over 300 clubs by 2023 and is prioritising plans to expand to north England
Anytime Fitness aims to have over 300 clubs by 2023 and is prioritising plans to expand to north England
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is in the process of setting up a chain of fitness clubs
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is in the process of setting up a chain of fitness clubs
énergie has a solid pipeline but can still grow up to 50 new sites a year
énergie has a solid pipeline but can still grow up to 50 new sites a year
Orangetheory has signed two master deals for a total of 110 franchised sites
Orangetheory has signed two master deals for a total of 110 franchised sites
Australia-based F45 is not only one of the fastest growing franchises in the UK, but one of the fastest worldwide
Australia-based F45 is not only one of the fastest growing franchises in the UK, but one of the fastest worldwide
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/imagesX/344751_843957.jpg
New operators are queuing up to enter the booming franchise market. Tom Walker reports
Tom Walker, Journalist, Leisure Media,franchise fitness sector, franchised brands, boutique operators, budget operators,
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features

Franchise briefing

There’s no sign of the UK’s franchise fitness sector cooling down. It’s not just existing operators looking to add to their burgeoning portfolios – new operators are queueing up to enter the market. Tom Walker reports

By Tom Walker, Leisure Media | Published in HCM Handbook 2019 issue 1
New entrant to the franchising market, Snap Fitness is pushing for 250 clubs
New entrant to the franchising market, Snap Fitness is pushing for 250 clubs
The UK fitness industry is teeming with franchised brands – over the last five years it’s been particularly driven by boutique and budget operators

The UK fitness industry is now teeming with franchised brands. Ranging in size from niche operators with a handful of sites to giants such as Anytime Fitness (150 clubs) and énergie (106 clubs), a quick count shows that there are close to 30 companies with some franchising element available for entrepreneurs.

The pace of growth has been particularly rapid over the past five years, driven by a number of boutique and budget operators entering the market with ambitious franchising plans. The new entrants include large operators such as Snap Fitness, which is now in the fourth year of an expansion push, aiming to reach 250 clubs.

As well as those with big plans, the franchising model has attracted smaller, independently-owned chains. These include Fitness Space, launched by former Olympian Tim Benjamin, which has expanded to 22 sites in five years, and fitness and social brand One Element, which has revealed plans to use franchising to take its sports-based, outdoor fitness programmes outside of London for the first time since its launch 12 years ago.

FROM OVERSEAS
Some of the biggest players to enter the market have arrived from foreign shores. Australia-based Jetts Fitness has made a solid start to life in the UK, since entering the market in September 2017.

“In just over 12 months, we will have launched seven clubs into what is a fiercely competitive market,” says Jetts Fitness UK director James Garner. Founded in 2007 by husband and wife team Brendon and Cristy Levenson, Jetts has established itself in the Australian market by expanding rapidly through a franchise model and now has more than 210 sites down under.

Another newcomer with big plans is US-based UFC Gym, which has revealed plans to open 100 fitness clubs across the UK and Ireland. The US-based chain – a brand extension of the world’s largest mixed martial arts organisation, The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) – has signed a 10-year partnership with TD Lifestyle, which will operate the sites.

In March 2018, two other US-based fitness franchises entered the UK with plans to carve out a share of the market. The first was Omni Fight Club, the cardio kickboxing experience that operates under the slogan ‘Fun Tough Fitness’. The company appointed property specialist Savills to seek its first UK sites as part of the brand’s expansion into Europe.

Omni’s entry was followed by Xponential Fitness, which currently owns a number of franchised boutique brands, including Club Pilates, indoor cycling concept CycleBar, indoor rowing business Row House and StretchLab, which offers personalised stretching services. Xponential said it plans to take its portfolio of brands global through a master franchise strategy it signed with entrepreneur Oliver Chipp. Chipp expects to open at least 30 CycleBar studios in UK over the next five years, and the first studio opened in London in 2018.

There could be more on their way too. Fifteen-time boxing world champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. is in the process of setting up a chain of fitness clubs. In July 2018, his venture, Mayweather Boxing + Fitness, revealed details of a franchising and international territory rights programme, which it says will “enable it to expand the brand globally”.

“Our goal is to have Mayweather Boxing + Fitness studios in neighbourhoods all over the world, providing fitness programmes for anyone who wants to train more effectively,” Mayweather says.

IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT LONDON
While the UK market is attracting a number of new players, there is plenty of activity being undertaken by those with an established footprint. One of the biggest players in the franchise market, énergie Fitness, has a solid pipeline.

“We can comfortably grow anywhere between 30 and 50 new sites a year,” says Jan Spaticchia, énergie’s founder and executive chair.

“We will, over the next two years, get into a comfortable pace of around 45-50 new clubs per year. And we can continue to do that for our five year outlook.”

The UK’s biggest franchise operator Anytime Fitness is still growing too. “Our goal is to have more than 300 clubs by 2023,” says CEO Stuart Broster.

He adds that making “greater inroads” to north England, outside of its powerbase in London and the south of England, will be a priority for its expansion plans.

“A lot of the clubs we opened in 2018 were outside of London, so that was a huge positive,” he says. “A lot of what we do is dictated by property availability. With high street retailers feeling the pinch in this current economic climate, we have seen some great opportunities open for us in prime locations.”

Broster also reveals that the company has found securing sites outside London to be a slightly different experience to the process within the capital.

“The model and club fitout are the same, it’s just about finding the right property,” he explains. “Outside of London, amenities like free parking are more important to the consumer and franchisees. Culture also plays a part. Our ethos of creating community-led clubs has an increased significance outside of cities where people have more time. Members’ dwell time in the clubs is increased and there’s a greater focus on member engagement and owning their local community.”

One of the new entrants to have accelerated its UK growth plans in 2018 is US-based boutique operator Orangetheory. Following a somewhat slow start in the UK – it initially signed a partnership deal with David Lloyd Leisure in 2013 but only opened three sites – the brand has now signed two master deals for a total of 110 franchised sites, covering all of England.

“We are putting a lot of focus on the UK,” says Dan Adelstein, Orangetheory’s vice president of franchise development.

“We’re looking to open 70 in the southern part of England and a further 40 in the north. Out of those, six were operating by the end of 2018 and we expect to have a total of 12 operating by the end of 2019.”

One of the fastest growing franchised brands in the UK – and the world – is Australia-based F45. It currently has more than 1,300 locations worldwide and has been busy on the European market over the past 12 months. It recently opened its first sites in Switzerland, Finland, the Czech Republic, Lebanon and Israel – with plans also in place to launch in Germany.

“We are now operating in 35 countries, but the focus is very much on the US and UK markets,” says Rob Deutsch.

“In the UK and Europe, we’re aiming to sell 185 franchises during 2019, and a further 350 in 2020. In the UK, our long-term goal is to have a studio in almost every corner of the country. We’ve already expanded significantly in London over the past two years, with almost 30 studios open, and this is still very much the focus.

“Short term, we’re also focusing on innercity hubs outside of the capital.”

To drive its UK and European plans, F45 launched a UK headquarters in London in August 2018. “Opening our European headquarters in London was a very important and exciting move for us,” Deutsch adds. “London is a strategically important market for the business, as the fitness industry continues to grow in both size and value. The new HQ will play an integral role in helping to expand across new markets and countries.

“It’s also a great way of showcasing our business model to prospective investors; its central location and close proximity to existing UK and European franchisees means that we can offer more support and help them to drive business. It’s given us a local presence as we are near many of the studios, so investors can come and get a feel for the brand, visit existing F45 studios and try the classes.”

THE FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT
So how much more growth can the UK fitness market accommodate? Lots, according to the operators.

“We definitely see an opportunity to continue to grow at our current levels”, says énergie’s Spaticchia. “We feel very lucky because we are on the cusp of two very hot markets. The budget fitness space is very hot from an investment point of view but, equally, fitness franchising has never been hotter.

“So while we have to deal with the environment getting more competitive, I think the fact that so many international franchises are heading for the UK has really shown that this is very furtive growth ground.”

Spaticchia adds that there remain plenty of areas to expand into. “Some of our clubs are in populations or towns as small as 20,000 or 25,000 people,” he explains. “For example, our Hoddesdon club is in a population of 20,000 people and yet it has 2,500 members and our franchisee makes annual profits. There are many more towns like Hoddesdon we can go into – and some haven’t got any real level of competition.”

Anytime’s Broster agrees and adds that, as well as the increasing demand from consumers, there’s also growing interest from entrepreneurs for getting involved in the fitness business. “The growth in the market is reflected by the eclectic franchisee network that we have,” he says.

“People are recognising the fitness industry as a sustainable investment and a lot of our franchisees have an existing portfolio of high-street hospitality franchises – such as Costa Coffee and Subway, for example.

“They’ve turned to fitness as it has a number of benefits, including lower staffing models, a smaller focus on attracting new customers and – as has been shown in the past few years – the fact that the industry is still growing despite the recession.”

For Orangetheory’s Adelstein, there is plenty of room for growth – especially for those with smaller-format clubs and studios. “I definitely see an increased demand for boutique fitness,” he says. “The boutique format is really taking over the big box.

“I feel that people are increasingly looking to spend less time at the gym and not ‘waste time’ – they are looking for results and looking for someone to work with them. But it also has to be reasonably priced. And that’s what we try to accomplish.”

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
Anytime Fitness aims to have over 300 clubs by 2023 and is prioritising plans to expand to north England
Anytime Fitness aims to have over 300 clubs by 2023 and is prioritising plans to expand to north England
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is in the process of setting up a chain of fitness clubs
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is in the process of setting up a chain of fitness clubs
énergie has a solid pipeline but can still grow up to 50 new sites a year
énergie has a solid pipeline but can still grow up to 50 new sites a year
Orangetheory has signed two master deals for a total of 110 franchised sites
Orangetheory has signed two master deals for a total of 110 franchised sites
Australia-based F45 is not only one of the fastest growing franchises in the UK, but one of the fastest worldwide
Australia-based F45 is not only one of the fastest growing franchises in the UK, but one of the fastest worldwide
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/imagesX/344751_843957.jpg
New operators are queuing up to enter the booming franchise market. Tom Walker reports
Tom Walker, Journalist, Leisure Media,franchise fitness sector, franchised brands, boutique operators, budget operators,
Latest News
Go Fit has been selected by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) as ...
Latest News
Ness, a US startup that is developing a range of wellness-driven credit cards, has launched ...
Latest News
Following a history of supporting US military and service members, F45 has announced a new ...
Latest News
Hyatt is piloting private gyms in five of its US hotels as part of its ...
Latest News
A young girl has died following an incident at the David Lloyd gym at Capability ...
Latest News
New fitness franchise, Circuit Society, has signed its first London location in Bayswater. The 3,000sq ...
Latest News
Active Nottingham, part of Nottingham City Council, has released a children’s book called Can We ...
Latest News
The new £42m Moorways Sports Village will open its doors to the public on Saturday ...
Latest News
Fitness industry veteran Harm Tegelaars has returned to the fitness industry by joining the board ...
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Sport England and UK Active have signed a five-year partnership agreement which will see the ...
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: ACTIV partners with Fisikal to deliver custom branded member experience
ACTIV, a gym chain in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which operates separate gyms for men and women, has partnered with digital management solution expert Fisikal to create a custom branded experience for its members.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Thousands flock to register for Elevate 2022 in London this summer
The health and fitness industry is eagerly awaiting the return of Elevate, which will take place on 15-16 June 2022 at ExCeL London.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Serco Leisure wins 10-year Mansfield contract
Following a competitive tendering process, Serco Leisure and its partner More Leisure Community Trust Limited (MLCT) have been awarded a 10-year contract by Mansfield District Council to operate three centres in the town, starting 1 May 2022.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: New partnership delivers swimming support to children with disabilities
A new partnership has been launched to provide inclusive swimming for children with mobility, visual and hearing disabilities.
Video Gallery
Total Vibration Solutions / Floors 4 Gyms / TVS Sports Surfaces
Mindbody, Inc
Mindbody, Inc
Company profiles
Company profile: Zimmer MedizinSysteme GmbH
Imagine a short treatment combined with many positive and long-lasting effects that your customers will ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Virtuagym
Virtuagym is a global provider of health and fitness technology for coaching, engagement and management ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: trade associations
Lockers/interior design
Crown Sports Lockers: Lockers/interior design
Management software
Premier Software Solutions: Management software
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
Skincare
Sothys: Skincare
Whole body cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Whole body cryotherapy
Salt therapy products
Saltability: Salt therapy products
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Fitness equipment
A Panatta Sport Srl: Fitness equipment
Property & Tenders
Pendine Sands, Carmarthenshire
Carmarthenshire County Council
Property & Tenders
Runcorn
Halton Borough Council
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
15-16 Jun 2022
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
30-30 Jun 2022
The ICC, Birmingham, Birmingham , United Kingdom
Diary dates
12-13 Sep 2022
Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs® Resort, Lake Buena Vista, United States
Diary dates
25-28 Oct 2022
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
25-28 Oct 2022
Ibiza, Ibiza, Spain
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates
17-18 Mar 2023
Tobacco Dock, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
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