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Thursday
Jun022016

UK Consumer Spending on Club Memberships Soars 

The following is an excerpt from The 2016 IHRSA Global Report: The State of the Health Club Industry.

Consumer spending on club memberships is soaring in the U.K., according to two new studies. Cardlytics, an Atlanta–based firm that monitors consumer spending via credit cards, debit cards, and direct debits, reports that the overall figure jumped 44% over the past year.

The strong growth, Cardlytics suggests, is due, in large part, to the dramatic increase in the number of budget facilities, which consumers can join without signing contracts. 

(Click to enlarge)

Budget Brands Drive Growth in the UK 

The popularity of the budget brands—e.g., Pure Gym, EasyGym, Anytime Fitness, DW Sports, etc.—produced a 66% increase in monthly purchases when May/June 2014 was compared with the same period in 2015. However, mid-market and high-end club players, such as Virgin Active and Holmes Place, also reported spending increases—of 22% and 14%, respectively. 

A new study by the Mintel Group, Ltd., an international, London-based marketing research firm, also acknowledged the boom in the budget sector, suggesting that the recent recession in the U.K. was also a contributing factor. 

“Nearly four-fifths of U.K. adults have set themselves at least one health or fitness goal, yet only 12% currently use a gym,” Mintel reported. “However, the indications for the private health and fitness club sector remain promising, with the continued rise of budget gyms helping to break down the barriers associated with more established clubs—i.e., cost, location, and the commitment of entering long-term contracts.” 

The UK’s Thriving Health Club Market 

In November, The Gym Group, based in London, went public, making the business the only listed club operator in the U.K. Founder and CEO John Treharne rang the bell on the London Stock Exchange as the shares began trading under the ticker GYM. Founded in 2008, The Gym Group now operates 66 clubs, which are open 24/7, and serve some 363,000 members across the U.K. With $136 million in gross proceeds from the offering, the chain plans to open between 15 and 20 locations per year. 

Pure Gym, a six-year-old, budget club company based in the U.K., has acquired 43 more-traditional fitness facilities from a competitor, LA Fitness, in a deal estimated to be worth $125 million. Pure Gym notes that the transaction will increase the availability of affordable fitness centers to people across Great Britain, particularly in London and the South East.“ 

With the addition of (these) sites, Pure Gym will continue to innovate with new facilities, technologies, and services for our existing and prospective members,” said Humphrey Cobbold, the CEO of the chain. Pure Gym currently operates 98 gyms, open 24 hours a day, which serve more than 520,000 members across the country. The company also has announced plans to add approximately 30 new sites to its portfolio this year. 

“This transaction will give users of LA Fitness access to high-quality fitness centers through a network of existing and new gyms,” noted LA Fitness CEO Martin Long. “I’m confident that our facilities and members will benefit from Pure Gym’s investment and attractive proposition.” 

Learn more about the 2016 IHRSA Global Report, including how to download a free preview.

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