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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

News

Virgin Active CEO: We’ll remain a major UK player

The CEO of Virgin Active has pledged the international gym chain will remain a significant player in its home market, despite selling a third of its UK clubs to Nuffield Health this week.

Speaking to Health Club Management, Virgin Active chief Paul Woolf said the disposal of 35 clubs was not the start of an exit from the UK in pursuit of faster expansion in Africa and Asia-Pacific. Instead, he said this week’s sale is part of its strategy of fostering “selective growth” across a streamlined and more profitable UK portfolio.

The remaining 61 Virgin Active health clubs will now be organised around three core proposition pillars: high-end Collection clubs, big family clubs and racquets clubs – with a broadly even split. Woolf said the company remains committed to growth across all three categories, with investment being made available for upgrades and new sites, such as the forthcoming £6.5m Collection club near London’s Mansion House.

“The UK is a very important market for us and we absolutely intend to remain a big player here,” said Woolf.

“We have a very clear ambition to grow in the UK, albeit from a slightly smaller base. Despite our cuts in the number of clubs in recent years, our absolute UK profitability has increased – we’re earning more money than we were three years ago and we’re earning more money every year.”

Virgin Active announced its 2015 financial results yesterday (14 June), reporting increases in both revenue (3 per cent) and underlying EBITDA (15 per cent) for the 16th consecutive year. Woolf pointed to growth across all three of its key regions – Europe, Africa and Asia-Pacific – as vindication for the metropolitan focus, adding that the latter two regions would see significant numbers of new Virgin Active clubs in the year ahead.

“In terms of Asia-Pacific we got to 10 clubs last year and will now invest £150m to take our estate to 40-50 clubs,” Woolf added. “We’ve been quite slow in the first couple of years, really working to understand what members are looking for out there, making sure that our clubs are designed very specifically to meet their needs.

“In southern Africa, we opened 10 clubs last year. This year, we’re opening up to 15 clubs in southern Africa, including two fabulous Collection clubs, one of which will be in Cape Town’s V&A Centre, next to a grain silo being reimagined by Thomas Heatherwick.”

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The CEO of Virgin Active has pledged the international gym chain will remain a significant player in its home market, despite selling a third of its UK clubs to Nuffield Health this week.
HAF,FIT,IND,PHR
THUMB11273_498136.jpg
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News

Virgin Active CEO: We’ll remain a major UK player

The CEO of Virgin Active has pledged the international gym chain will remain a significant player in its home market, despite selling a third of its UK clubs to Nuffield Health this week.

Speaking to Health Club Management, Virgin Active chief Paul Woolf said the disposal of 35 clubs was not the start of an exit from the UK in pursuit of faster expansion in Africa and Asia-Pacific. Instead, he said this week’s sale is part of its strategy of fostering “selective growth” across a streamlined and more profitable UK portfolio.

The remaining 61 Virgin Active health clubs will now be organised around three core proposition pillars: high-end Collection clubs, big family clubs and racquets clubs – with a broadly even split. Woolf said the company remains committed to growth across all three categories, with investment being made available for upgrades and new sites, such as the forthcoming £6.5m Collection club near London’s Mansion House.

“The UK is a very important market for us and we absolutely intend to remain a big player here,” said Woolf.

“We have a very clear ambition to grow in the UK, albeit from a slightly smaller base. Despite our cuts in the number of clubs in recent years, our absolute UK profitability has increased – we’re earning more money than we were three years ago and we’re earning more money every year.”

Virgin Active announced its 2015 financial results yesterday (14 June), reporting increases in both revenue (3 per cent) and underlying EBITDA (15 per cent) for the 16th consecutive year. Woolf pointed to growth across all three of its key regions – Europe, Africa and Asia-Pacific – as vindication for the metropolitan focus, adding that the latter two regions would see significant numbers of new Virgin Active clubs in the year ahead.

“In terms of Asia-Pacific we got to 10 clubs last year and will now invest £150m to take our estate to 40-50 clubs,” Woolf added. “We’ve been quite slow in the first couple of years, really working to understand what members are looking for out there, making sure that our clubs are designed very specifically to meet their needs.

“In southern Africa, we opened 10 clubs last year. This year, we’re opening up to 15 clubs in southern Africa, including two fabulous Collection clubs, one of which will be in Cape Town’s V&A Centre, next to a grain silo being reimagined by Thomas Heatherwick.”

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
The CEO of Virgin Active has pledged the international gym chain will remain a significant player in its home market, despite selling a third of its UK clubs to Nuffield Health this week.
HAF,FIT,IND,PHR
THUMB11273_498136.jpg

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An increasing number of gym and studio owners are realising that the days of them needing six, eight or 10 pieces of expensive, disjointed and barely adequate software to operate their business is a thing of the past.
Featured supplier news
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Company profiles
Company profile: Parkwood Leisure
Parkwood Leisure is a family-owned leisure management company working with local authority partners across England ...
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EGYM empowers gym operators to deliver a workout experience that supports their members' lifelong fitness ...
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Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Whole body cryotherapy
Zimmer MedizinSysteme GmbH / icelab: Whole body cryotherapy
Exercise equipment
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trade associations
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Diary dates
01-03 Feb 2022
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Diary dates
07-10 Apr 2022
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