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Health Club Management

Health Club Management

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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
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Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

Finance: The fightback begins

Change is coming, with consolidation likely in the market – especially in the boutique sector. Nadim Meer advises operators how to position themselves for investment

Published in Health Club Management 2020 issue 6
Raising funds can enable operators to invest in growth / JACOB LUND/shutterstock
Raising funds can enable operators to invest in growth / JACOB LUND/shutterstock
Equity funding could drive some of the much-predicted consolidation in the boutique sector

As lockdown restrictions begin to lift, fitness businesses are focusing on navigating the new (socially distanced) landscape and getting a better idea of the impact the pandemic is having on their business model and longer-term financing requirements.

Some will not survive and some will not reopen. However, this will allow other operators space to grow and develop in a market that’s less crowded compared to the pre-COVID landscape.

In terms of sources of finance, operators will need to look for suitable sources of funding that fit their business model – one realistic target for raising capital will be the private equity and private capital community.

While some investment activity is on hold at present, history suggests that following a crisis there is a flight of capital towards private companies. If you add to this the fact that pre-COVID there were many private equity funds sitting on significant amounts of uninvested capital and that – historically – their best returns have been made when investing in the aftermath of a crisis, many private equity investors will be keen to return to the market and deploy capital as soon as possible.

In terms of timing, however, we are unlikely to see much private equity investment before Q4 of this year. Valuations are too uncertain and few investors would be prepared to hand over their cash without having met the management in the flesh.

Although we’re hearing about some deals which have been completed over Zoom, for the majority of investors, this isn’t a substitute for meeting face to face when it comes to the private equity investment world.

This will be challenging news for businesses that are experiencing a cash squeeze, as rent and other payments become payable and the furlough scheme is wound down, however, it does allow those that are better capitalised the luxury of time to plan and position the business for investment.

Get ready for investment
Now is the time to prepare – take a long, hard and dispassionate look at all aspects of your operation. Innovate, improve digital activity and overhaul your strategy, looking ahead three to four years. Do everything you can to position your business as best-in-class.

If a business in the fitness sector makes it through to Q4 this year, it will have done everything it can to reduce costs, manage its cash and ride out the storm. However, in order to raise equity funding, you’ll need to create a credible, sustainable plan for growth, including an information memorandum setting out details of the business, as well as the ways you plan to achieve growth (expanding the digital offering, franchising, licensing, acquisitions and/or opening new sites, for example). You’ll also need financial projections and legal and financial due diligence materials.

Investors will expect a detailed summary of the impact of COVID-19 on the business. Counterintuitively, this is a great opportunity to showcase investability, the strength of the management team, resilience to shock and the ability to adapt, evolve and survive. These are essential components investors look for.

The COVID report should address:
Any immediate action you took to protect the business (eg. rent deals, furlough, adaptive working programmes for staff, VAT, PAYE, business rate deferrals, applications for CBILs, etc.).

How you adjusted your business model and working practices. This may still be evolving, but should be clear by the time you fundraise.

Preparedness for a second lockdown and ability to withstand further shocks.

Customer retention rates after reopening.
Another key consideration will be the need to be realistic about the value of the business now. ‘Top of the market’, full valuation deals, with shareholders selling out completely, are unlikely to be seen for a while. However, less aggressive deal structures that offer investors some form of downside-protection and an element of shared risk will be most common.

This may look unattractive on paper, but if it’s the price to be paid for securing funding to scale up and grow – and to build a war chest that allows the business to thrive and outperform competitors – it may prove to be a wise decision three to four years down the line.

Consolidating the boutique sector
For those in the boutique sector, equity funding could now drive some of the much-predicted consolidation in the sector. There are close to 300 studios and boutique gyms in London alone and the cash constraints caused by COVID-19 will be having an impact.

The logic of bringing a number of boutique brands under one platform, offering best-in-class activity to the same customers, as well as avoiding the margin erosion of ClassPass, may be unstoppable.

Boutiques that emerge from the crisis will find that a strong brand, a compelling online presence, customer loyalty, a robust financial model and a strong management team will all make them attractive to investors, as platforms from which competitors are acquired and roll-outs are executed.

The challenge for boutiques will be to try to be the ones that drive the consolidation rather than being subsumed by it.

Nadim Meer is head of private equity at Mishcon de Reya

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
Fallout from the pandemic will see consolidation in the boutique market / JACOB LUND/shutterstock
Fallout from the pandemic will see consolidation in the boutique market / JACOB LUND/shutterstock
http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/2020/826005_373465.jpg
'Equity funding could drive some of the much-predicted consolidation in the boutique sector' – Nadim Meer on how to attract investment
Nadim Meer, Mishcon de Reya,equity funding
People
We offer career progression and decent pay and retain 85–90% of staff each year
People
HCM people

Dan Bond

Owner, CrossFit Fort Ashton
We’d explained leading up to the lockdown that if everyone decided to freeze or cancel, then there would be a possibility of not having a gym to come back to
People
HCM people

Dave Courteen

MD and co-founder of Mosaic Spa and Health Clubs
I set myself the goal that if I found someone famous to write the foreword and a publisher, then I would write the book
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Evidence suggests that over many years personal trainers have been forced to leave the fitness industry because employment patterns are erratic, earnings are inconsistent and it is difficult to build up value needed to secure an appropriate lifestyle.
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Opinion: Up your ‘data game’ to successfully relaunch your fitness business
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Featured supplier: Digital education: TRX trains more than 14,000 professionals for free using live virtual training
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Company profile: Proinsight Research Ltd
We take time at the outset to understand your unique customer journey. Then we work ...
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Supplier Showcases
Supplier showcase - Precor Showcase
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Gym flooring
REGUPOL/Berleburger Schaumstoffwerk (BSW): Gym flooring
Trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: Trade associations
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Skincare
Sothys: Skincare
Exercise equipment
Matrix Fitness: Exercise equipment
Whole body cryotherapy
Zimmer MedizinSysteme GmbH / icelab: Whole body cryotherapy
Lockers/interior design
Fitlockers: Lockers/interior design
Management software
fibodo Limited: Management software
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
Property & Tenders
Waltham Abbey, Essex
Lee Valley Regional Park Authority
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
21-24 Sep 2020
Loews Coronado Bay Resort, Coronado, United States
Diary dates
21-24 Sep 2020
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
22-23 Sep 2020
Heythrop Park, United Kingdom
Diary dates
17-23 Oct 2020
Pinggu, Beijing, China
Diary dates
03-06 Nov 2020
Online,
Diary dates
27-28 Nov 2020
Athena, Leicester, United Kingdom
Diary dates
23-26 Feb 2021
IFEMA, Madrid, Spain
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03-04 Mar 2021
NEC, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Diary dates
03-06 Jun 2021
Expo Centre & Riviera di Rimini, Italy
Diary dates
16-17 Jun 2021
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates

features

Finance: The fightback begins

Change is coming, with consolidation likely in the market – especially in the boutique sector. Nadim Meer advises operators how to position themselves for investment

Published in Health Club Management 2020 issue 6
Raising funds can enable operators to invest in growth / JACOB LUND/shutterstock
Raising funds can enable operators to invest in growth / JACOB LUND/shutterstock
Equity funding could drive some of the much-predicted consolidation in the boutique sector

As lockdown restrictions begin to lift, fitness businesses are focusing on navigating the new (socially distanced) landscape and getting a better idea of the impact the pandemic is having on their business model and longer-term financing requirements.

Some will not survive and some will not reopen. However, this will allow other operators space to grow and develop in a market that’s less crowded compared to the pre-COVID landscape.

In terms of sources of finance, operators will need to look for suitable sources of funding that fit their business model – one realistic target for raising capital will be the private equity and private capital community.

While some investment activity is on hold at present, history suggests that following a crisis there is a flight of capital towards private companies. If you add to this the fact that pre-COVID there were many private equity funds sitting on significant amounts of uninvested capital and that – historically – their best returns have been made when investing in the aftermath of a crisis, many private equity investors will be keen to return to the market and deploy capital as soon as possible.

In terms of timing, however, we are unlikely to see much private equity investment before Q4 of this year. Valuations are too uncertain and few investors would be prepared to hand over their cash without having met the management in the flesh.

Although we’re hearing about some deals which have been completed over Zoom, for the majority of investors, this isn’t a substitute for meeting face to face when it comes to the private equity investment world.

This will be challenging news for businesses that are experiencing a cash squeeze, as rent and other payments become payable and the furlough scheme is wound down, however, it does allow those that are better capitalised the luxury of time to plan and position the business for investment.

Get ready for investment
Now is the time to prepare – take a long, hard and dispassionate look at all aspects of your operation. Innovate, improve digital activity and overhaul your strategy, looking ahead three to four years. Do everything you can to position your business as best-in-class.

If a business in the fitness sector makes it through to Q4 this year, it will have done everything it can to reduce costs, manage its cash and ride out the storm. However, in order to raise equity funding, you’ll need to create a credible, sustainable plan for growth, including an information memorandum setting out details of the business, as well as the ways you plan to achieve growth (expanding the digital offering, franchising, licensing, acquisitions and/or opening new sites, for example). You’ll also need financial projections and legal and financial due diligence materials.

Investors will expect a detailed summary of the impact of COVID-19 on the business. Counterintuitively, this is a great opportunity to showcase investability, the strength of the management team, resilience to shock and the ability to adapt, evolve and survive. These are essential components investors look for.

The COVID report should address:
Any immediate action you took to protect the business (eg. rent deals, furlough, adaptive working programmes for staff, VAT, PAYE, business rate deferrals, applications for CBILs, etc.).

How you adjusted your business model and working practices. This may still be evolving, but should be clear by the time you fundraise.

Preparedness for a second lockdown and ability to withstand further shocks.

Customer retention rates after reopening.
Another key consideration will be the need to be realistic about the value of the business now. ‘Top of the market’, full valuation deals, with shareholders selling out completely, are unlikely to be seen for a while. However, less aggressive deal structures that offer investors some form of downside-protection and an element of shared risk will be most common.

This may look unattractive on paper, but if it’s the price to be paid for securing funding to scale up and grow – and to build a war chest that allows the business to thrive and outperform competitors – it may prove to be a wise decision three to four years down the line.

Consolidating the boutique sector
For those in the boutique sector, equity funding could now drive some of the much-predicted consolidation in the sector. There are close to 300 studios and boutique gyms in London alone and the cash constraints caused by COVID-19 will be having an impact.

The logic of bringing a number of boutique brands under one platform, offering best-in-class activity to the same customers, as well as avoiding the margin erosion of ClassPass, may be unstoppable.

Boutiques that emerge from the crisis will find that a strong brand, a compelling online presence, customer loyalty, a robust financial model and a strong management team will all make them attractive to investors, as platforms from which competitors are acquired and roll-outs are executed.

The challenge for boutiques will be to try to be the ones that drive the consolidation rather than being subsumed by it.

Nadim Meer is head of private equity at Mishcon de Reya

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
Fallout from the pandemic will see consolidation in the boutique market / JACOB LUND/shutterstock
Fallout from the pandemic will see consolidation in the boutique market / JACOB LUND/shutterstock
http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/2020/826005_373465.jpg
'Equity funding could drive some of the much-predicted consolidation in the boutique sector' – Nadim Meer on how to attract investment
Nadim Meer, Mishcon de Reya,equity funding
Latest News
Today (10 August) is the last day for companies to enter the follow-up survey to ...
Latest News
A significant proportion of leisure facilities in England have not reopened since lockdown measures were ...
Latest News
Industry body, ukactive, has questioned the decision to close gyms and health clubs as part ...
Latest News
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has paid a surprise visit to a branch of The Gym ...
Latest News
Planet Fitness' share price on the New York Stock Exchange has remained steady at between ...
Latest News
Two of the largest health club operators in the US have announced that members and ...
Latest News
If you're a personal trainer working in the UK, you can now get online PT ...
Latest News
A member of SAGE, the government’s independent group of scientific advisers, has said gyms, pubs ...
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Opinion
promotion
Evidence suggests that over many years personal trainers have been forced to leave the fitness industry because employment patterns are erratic, earnings are inconsistent and it is difficult to build up value needed to secure an appropriate lifestyle.
Opinion: Personal trainers need support as employment opportunities diminish: FREE on-demand webinar
Opinion
promotion
Data-driven businesses are some of today’s greatest global success stories, providing blueprints for success.
Opinion: Up your ‘data game’ to successfully relaunch your fitness business
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: Digital education: TRX trains more than 14,000 professionals for free using live virtual training
In response to the pandemic, TRX, the global leader in functional training equipment, world- class training content, and app-based training technology, transformed its TRX Suspension Training Course into a free, live virtual edition via Zoom.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: Gympass partners with F45 Training to bring functional team training to world's largest corporate fitness platform
Gympass, the world’s largest corporate fitness platform, has announced a partnership with F45 Training, one of the world’s fastest-growing fitness franchisors that will give its corporate members access to their global network of workout facilities.
Company profiles
Company profile: Proinsight Research Ltd
We take time at the outset to understand your unique customer journey. Then we work ...
Company profiles
Company profile: MoveGB
Move is the fitness marketplace connecting our partners with customers through the largest variety of ...
Supplier Showcases
Supplier showcase - Precor Showcase
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Gym flooring
REGUPOL/Berleburger Schaumstoffwerk (BSW): Gym flooring
Trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: Trade associations
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Skincare
Sothys: Skincare
Exercise equipment
Matrix Fitness: Exercise equipment
Whole body cryotherapy
Zimmer MedizinSysteme GmbH / icelab: Whole body cryotherapy
Lockers/interior design
Fitlockers: Lockers/interior design
Management software
fibodo Limited: Management software
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
Property & Tenders
Waltham Abbey, Essex
Lee Valley Regional Park Authority
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
21-24 Sep 2020
Loews Coronado Bay Resort, Coronado, United States
Diary dates
21-24 Sep 2020
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
22-23 Sep 2020
Heythrop Park, United Kingdom
Diary dates
17-23 Oct 2020
Pinggu, Beijing, China
Diary dates
03-06 Nov 2020
Online,
Diary dates
27-28 Nov 2020
Athena, Leicester, United Kingdom
Diary dates
23-26 Feb 2021
IFEMA, Madrid, Spain
Diary dates
03-04 Mar 2021
NEC, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Diary dates
03-06 Jun 2021
Expo Centre & Riviera di Rimini, Italy
Diary dates
16-17 Jun 2021
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
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