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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

HCM People: Colin WaggettCEO, Third Space

We first started talking to KSL over two years ago, so this was not a rushed partnership

Published in Health Club Management 2021 issue 8
Now’s the time to capitalise on the availability of new sites, says Waggett / photo: Third Space
Now’s the time to capitalise on the availability of new sites, says Waggett / photo: Third Space
The market demand is there and we’re going to meet and grow that demand

How long has it taken you to get the KSL deal over the line and what’s the thinking behind it?
The deal gives us a partner with deep leisure experience – and funding. Taken together this means we can be bold in our strategy and our ambition.

Going into the pandemic we were self-financing our growth and had a very good set of opportunities, however, the pandemic ate up a lot of our cash reserves while the quality and quantity of new site opportunities improved. We want to take advantage of these.

The new opportunities have mainly come from the huge amount of space that’s being repurposed from big box retail, added to the fact that landlords who are undertaking major redevelopment projects recognise that for both residential and office developments, fitness is the new anchor tenant and if it’s a premium development, then Third Space is top of their list.

Now’s the time to capitalise on this opportunity, hence the reason for seeking out additional funding. KSL saw the situation just as we did, hence our ability to get this done now.

Why KSL?
KSL has a vision statement which is “to invest in the unforgettable to create the enduring.” I really like that. They’re a leisure-only investor and work primarily in the luxury segment.

They really understand that customer experience is at the heart of businesses like ours. In short, they have relevant expertise, their values align with ours and they believe in what we’re doing.

We first started talking to them over two years ago, so this was not a rushed partnership. It’s also great that our long-term backer, Encore Capital, has remained invested. This reflects their confidence and belief in what we do.

Will you extend the brand?
As a holistic lifestyle brand with fitness and training at its heart, we also have credentials in food through our successful Natural Fitness Food Brand and our restaurant The Pearson Room. Natural Fitness Food delivery also launched in April this year, allowing consumers to order our food outside the clubs, alongside nutritional support and healthy meal plans.

We also have a sports medical business, a spa business and we launched our retreats business Third Space Escapes prior to the pandemic. Once travel is more stable we see Third Space Escapes re-launching with new locations and for both restorative and adventure-led trips.

Our digital fitness proposition was developed rapidly during the successive lockdowns to support our members’ training at home with PT programmes and a range of our most popular classes, all delivered through our member app. Now it’s used both in and out of the clubs for personalised programmes and for members who are still partly working from home and wish to take a class from our on-demand library.

There’s an opportunity to continue to grow and obsessively innovate in all of these areas of our business to further support and enrich the lives of our members.

We continually re-invest in our clubs, repurposing space as trends and demands evolve. For example, with increased interest in recovery and relaxation, we’re adding cryotherapy and percussive therapy zones to our clubs.

A simple and obvious part of our plan is to add more great sites. We already have a strong presence in central London and our pipeline will take us into some of the more residential neighbourhoods of the city in the next two to three years. This will bring our brand to new people, as well as providing a great network for members to train, both near home and near to work.

In summary, our plan is to get better and better, as we also grow. The market demand is there and we’re going to meet and grow that demand.

How much value has been added to the company in percentage terms since your last funding deal?
Revenues from the Third Space brand increased by six-fold between 2014 and immediately prior to the pandemic.

How has trading been in the UK since the end of lockdowns?
We’ve actually bounced back better than we expected. Even though we’re mainly in central London locations, all our clubs have a significant residential catchment, plus some very dedicated members that would come to the clubs even if they were on fire!

Working from home is obviously a factor in some of our locations – and will be for some time no doubt. I fully expect it to be a year or so before anyone can say what the new normal really is.

Has Little Space been a success and if so, will you be rolling out more?
The Little Space kids concept has been incredibly well received by our Islington (London) members with children. Our fully-booked swimming programme has been particularly successful and parents are keen to get their kids back to activities again.

If the demographics and space supported it, we would definitely consider building more Little Space sites.

Has your demographic changed since the start of the pandemic?
Not particularly.

What actions did you take that made the most difference when it came to getting through the lockdowns?
The most important thing was good communication. That applies to members and the team. With members, we immediately put them on free freeze and kept our brilliant membership team working full-time to deal with any and all queries that members had.

By being decisive, fair, transparent and contactable I think we protected our brand and even built further loyalty as we navigated the lockdowns.

The same principles applied to the team. Even when we didn’t know what was coming next we would tell the team that. We tried to keep them as up to speed as possible. Sometimes just saying there is no news is in itself reassuring. We also ran a whole load of training and development, as well as social clubs, book clubs, cocktail events or just getting together online for a chat. For some people, lockdown was incredibly hard, so we tried to be helpful and supportive.

As mentioned, we also moved heaven and earth to give members digital options to train with their favourite instructors. Looking back, the progress we made in that time was amazing – it’s incredible what can be done with total focus and a burning need.

Do you have global ambitions for the Third Space brand?
Yes at some point... I can’t say where or when yet...

What does this deal say about the state of the wider industry?
It shows how resilient it is. The last 18 months have been very hard for everyone in the industry, but the big tailwinds we had before are still there and with the right proposition there are plenty of opportunities still. Sophisticated investors like KSL can clearly see that, so this deal is great validation for our business.

Background briefing
London 6 August 2021

KSL Capital Partners acquired a majority interest in Third Space from Encore Capital, who originally invested in the company in 2010.Encore will remain an investor in Third Space.

Launched in 2001, Third Space operates a portfolio of six clubs in the UK, with a seventh site set to open in late 2021 at Number One Curzon Street, Mayfair, London.

In addition to adding new clubs, the company plans to continue to develop its brand outside the traditional club environment, both digitally and “in new settings”.

Martin Edsinger, principal at KSL, said: “Third Space’s mission and growth plan align with KSL’s history of investing in differentiated, experiential hospitality and wellness brands that are committed to people and community impact.

More: www.HCMmag.com/KSL

Fitness is the new anchor tenant, with property developers seeking alliances with premium brands / photo: Third Space
Fitness is the new anchor tenant, with property developers seeking alliances with premium brands / photo: Third Space
Third Space Escapes will relaunch as soon as travel is more stable / photo: Third Space
Third Space Escapes will relaunch as soon as travel is more stable / photo: Third Space
Revenues at Third Space increased six-fold between 2014 and the start of the pandemic / photo: Third Space
Revenues at Third Space increased six-fold between 2014 and the start of the pandemic / photo: Third Space
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/2021/47957_129986.jpg
The CEO of Third Space, Colin Waggett, talks about the company’s recent deal with KSL and plans for growth
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Colin Waggett

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Diary dates
07-10 Apr 2022
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Diary dates
15-16 Jun 2022
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates

features

HCM People: Colin WaggettCEO, Third Space

We first started talking to KSL over two years ago, so this was not a rushed partnership

Published in Health Club Management 2021 issue 8
Now’s the time to capitalise on the availability of new sites, says Waggett / photo: Third Space
Now’s the time to capitalise on the availability of new sites, says Waggett / photo: Third Space
The market demand is there and we’re going to meet and grow that demand

How long has it taken you to get the KSL deal over the line and what’s the thinking behind it?
The deal gives us a partner with deep leisure experience – and funding. Taken together this means we can be bold in our strategy and our ambition.

Going into the pandemic we were self-financing our growth and had a very good set of opportunities, however, the pandemic ate up a lot of our cash reserves while the quality and quantity of new site opportunities improved. We want to take advantage of these.

The new opportunities have mainly come from the huge amount of space that’s being repurposed from big box retail, added to the fact that landlords who are undertaking major redevelopment projects recognise that for both residential and office developments, fitness is the new anchor tenant and if it’s a premium development, then Third Space is top of their list.

Now’s the time to capitalise on this opportunity, hence the reason for seeking out additional funding. KSL saw the situation just as we did, hence our ability to get this done now.

Why KSL?
KSL has a vision statement which is “to invest in the unforgettable to create the enduring.” I really like that. They’re a leisure-only investor and work primarily in the luxury segment.

They really understand that customer experience is at the heart of businesses like ours. In short, they have relevant expertise, their values align with ours and they believe in what we’re doing.

We first started talking to them over two years ago, so this was not a rushed partnership. It’s also great that our long-term backer, Encore Capital, has remained invested. This reflects their confidence and belief in what we do.

Will you extend the brand?
As a holistic lifestyle brand with fitness and training at its heart, we also have credentials in food through our successful Natural Fitness Food Brand and our restaurant The Pearson Room. Natural Fitness Food delivery also launched in April this year, allowing consumers to order our food outside the clubs, alongside nutritional support and healthy meal plans.

We also have a sports medical business, a spa business and we launched our retreats business Third Space Escapes prior to the pandemic. Once travel is more stable we see Third Space Escapes re-launching with new locations and for both restorative and adventure-led trips.

Our digital fitness proposition was developed rapidly during the successive lockdowns to support our members’ training at home with PT programmes and a range of our most popular classes, all delivered through our member app. Now it’s used both in and out of the clubs for personalised programmes and for members who are still partly working from home and wish to take a class from our on-demand library.

There’s an opportunity to continue to grow and obsessively innovate in all of these areas of our business to further support and enrich the lives of our members.

We continually re-invest in our clubs, repurposing space as trends and demands evolve. For example, with increased interest in recovery and relaxation, we’re adding cryotherapy and percussive therapy zones to our clubs.

A simple and obvious part of our plan is to add more great sites. We already have a strong presence in central London and our pipeline will take us into some of the more residential neighbourhoods of the city in the next two to three years. This will bring our brand to new people, as well as providing a great network for members to train, both near home and near to work.

In summary, our plan is to get better and better, as we also grow. The market demand is there and we’re going to meet and grow that demand.

How much value has been added to the company in percentage terms since your last funding deal?
Revenues from the Third Space brand increased by six-fold between 2014 and immediately prior to the pandemic.

How has trading been in the UK since the end of lockdowns?
We’ve actually bounced back better than we expected. Even though we’re mainly in central London locations, all our clubs have a significant residential catchment, plus some very dedicated members that would come to the clubs even if they were on fire!

Working from home is obviously a factor in some of our locations – and will be for some time no doubt. I fully expect it to be a year or so before anyone can say what the new normal really is.

Has Little Space been a success and if so, will you be rolling out more?
The Little Space kids concept has been incredibly well received by our Islington (London) members with children. Our fully-booked swimming programme has been particularly successful and parents are keen to get their kids back to activities again.

If the demographics and space supported it, we would definitely consider building more Little Space sites.

Has your demographic changed since the start of the pandemic?
Not particularly.

What actions did you take that made the most difference when it came to getting through the lockdowns?
The most important thing was good communication. That applies to members and the team. With members, we immediately put them on free freeze and kept our brilliant membership team working full-time to deal with any and all queries that members had.

By being decisive, fair, transparent and contactable I think we protected our brand and even built further loyalty as we navigated the lockdowns.

The same principles applied to the team. Even when we didn’t know what was coming next we would tell the team that. We tried to keep them as up to speed as possible. Sometimes just saying there is no news is in itself reassuring. We also ran a whole load of training and development, as well as social clubs, book clubs, cocktail events or just getting together online for a chat. For some people, lockdown was incredibly hard, so we tried to be helpful and supportive.

As mentioned, we also moved heaven and earth to give members digital options to train with their favourite instructors. Looking back, the progress we made in that time was amazing – it’s incredible what can be done with total focus and a burning need.

Do you have global ambitions for the Third Space brand?
Yes at some point... I can’t say where or when yet...

What does this deal say about the state of the wider industry?
It shows how resilient it is. The last 18 months have been very hard for everyone in the industry, but the big tailwinds we had before are still there and with the right proposition there are plenty of opportunities still. Sophisticated investors like KSL can clearly see that, so this deal is great validation for our business.

Background briefing
London 6 August 2021

KSL Capital Partners acquired a majority interest in Third Space from Encore Capital, who originally invested in the company in 2010.Encore will remain an investor in Third Space.

Launched in 2001, Third Space operates a portfolio of six clubs in the UK, with a seventh site set to open in late 2021 at Number One Curzon Street, Mayfair, London.

In addition to adding new clubs, the company plans to continue to develop its brand outside the traditional club environment, both digitally and “in new settings”.

Martin Edsinger, principal at KSL, said: “Third Space’s mission and growth plan align with KSL’s history of investing in differentiated, experiential hospitality and wellness brands that are committed to people and community impact.

More: www.HCMmag.com/KSL

Fitness is the new anchor tenant, with property developers seeking alliances with premium brands / photo: Third Space
Fitness is the new anchor tenant, with property developers seeking alliances with premium brands / photo: Third Space
Third Space Escapes will relaunch as soon as travel is more stable / photo: Third Space
Third Space Escapes will relaunch as soon as travel is more stable / photo: Third Space
Revenues at Third Space increased six-fold between 2014 and the start of the pandemic / photo: Third Space
Revenues at Third Space increased six-fold between 2014 and the start of the pandemic / photo: Third Space
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/2021/47957_129986.jpg
The CEO of Third Space, Colin Waggett, talks about the company’s recent deal with KSL and plans for growth
Latest News
A new high-end workspace, designed for the use of personal trainers, coaches and other health ...
Latest News
VAT reform, adjustments in business rates and a fitness-led high street regeneration push could see ...
Latest News
Peloton has completed the merging of its commercial operations with Precor, the equipment brand it ...
Latest News
Half of UK adults aren't happy with their physical fitness levels, according to a study ...
Latest News
Temporary measures brought in to support businesses in the UK from insolvency during the pandemic ...
Latest News
Nadine Dorries has replaced Oliver Dowden as the Secretary of State for Digital, Media, Culture ...
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In a major move against the gym market, Apple has revealed a number of upgrades ...
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Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Will your business last without digital transformation?
During the pandemic, a digital transformation took off faster than anyone could have predicted with meetings in person cancelled and millions working from home.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Active IQ Skills Hub helps fitness professionals boost skills in post-Covid market
Suffice to say that the pandemic has completely changed the way fitness professionals work and the way consumers work out – and therein lies opportunity.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Everyone Active generates £342m in social value
Award-winning leisure operator Everyone Active generated £342million in social value at its sites across the country in 2019/20.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Everyone Active bolsters Everyone on Demand and enters second year with five new partnerships
Everyone Active has signed a number of new deals which will see the operator strengthen its digital product offering, Everyone on Demand.
Company profiles
Company profile: Les Mills UK
For over 50 years Les Mills has been leading the way in fitness to inspire ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Art of Cryo
Art of Cryo is a new division of a renowned family business with 30 years’ ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Whole body cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Whole body cryotherapy
Skincare
Sothys: Skincare
Red Light Therapy
 Red Light Rising: Red Light Therapy
Exercise equipment
Pendex Fisio S.L.: Exercise equipment
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Uniforms
Service Sport: Uniforms
Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Kemitron GmbH: Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Salt therapy products
Himalayan Source: Salt therapy products
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
Fitness equipment
Octane Fitness: Fitness equipment
Property & Tenders
Welwyn Garden City
Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council
Property & Tenders
Newport, Shropshire
Lilleshall Sports Academy
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
21-24 Sep 2021
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
13-14 Oct 2021
Online,
Diary dates
01-03 Feb 2022
Coventry Building Society Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
Diary dates
07-10 Apr 2022
Exhibition Centre , Cologne, Germany
Diary dates
15-16 Jun 2022
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates
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