January 22, 2021—Planet Fitness franchisee National Fitness Partners (“NFP” or the “company”) announced the acquisition of 16 Planet Fitness clubs, including 15 locations in the greater Cleveland and Akron-Canton, OH, markets and one location in central Pennsylvania from two different sellers (the “transaction”). The transaction, which was financed with junior capital from funds managed by the Credit Group of Ares Management Corporation (“Ares”), strategically expands NFP’s growing footprint, which now includes 94 Planet Fitness clubs with exclusive rights to develop 40 plus additional clubs in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Delaware, North Carolina and South Carolina. NFP is a portfolio company of Argonne Capital Group, LLC (“Argonne”), the Atlanta-based private investment firm.
“We remain bullish on the near-term recovery prospects and long-term growth of the Planet Fitness brand, as encouraging membership and utilization trends continue to point to a successful emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Stephen Kindler Jr., president and CEO of National Fitness Partners. “This significant investment will expand our reach into important new markets and strengthen our efforts to ensure more people have access to low-cost fitness options, as we believe regular exercise plays an essential role in enhancing the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of our members.”
“This transaction is a unique opportunity that will enable NFP to strengthen its base business and diversify its existing geographic footprint and cash flow, while positioning the company for considerable growth opportunities as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes,” said Layton Grisette, managing director of Argonne Capital.
This transaction represents the seventh acquisition for NFP, which was founded in 2016 in partnership with Argonne to acquire 10 Planet Fitness locations in central Pennsylvania from the Kindler family. The Kindlers have been involved in the fitness industry since 1967 and legacy Planet Fitness franchisees since 2005, when the family converted two gyms in Harrisburg, PA, to Planet Fitness.
“This financing enables NFP to complete a highly strategic transaction,” said Joe Carvalho, managing director in the Credit Group of Ares Management. “We have been impressed with how Planet Fitness and NFP have performed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and are pleased to support this team of experienced operators.”
In connection with the transaction, King & Spalding LLP served as legal advisor to NFP and Argonne. Additionally, Lathrop GPM, LLP, Ernst & Young LLP, McGuireWoods LLP and Smith & Howard, P.C. served as advisors to NFP and Argonne. Fifth Third Securities, Inc. served as NFP and Argonne’s exclusive financial advisor. Proskauer Rose, LLP served as legal advisor to Ares.
About Planet Fitness
Founded in 1992 in Dover, N.H., Planet Fitness (NYSE: PLNT) is one of the largest and fastest-growing franchisors and operators of fitness centers in the United States by number of members and locations. As of September 30, 2020, Planet Fitness had more than 14.1 million members and 2,086 stores in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada, Panama, Mexico and Australia. The company's mission is to enhance people's lives by providing a high-quality fitness experience in a welcoming, non-intimidating environment, which we call the Judgement Free Zone®. More than 95 percent of Planet Fitness stores are owned and operated by independent businessmen and women.
About National Fitness Partners
Founded in 2016 to acquire 10 Planet Fitness locations in central Pennsylvania from the Kindler family in partnership with Argonne Capital Group, National Fitness Partners is one of the largest developers and operators within the Planet Fitness system and the 2019 Planet Fitness "Operator of the Year." Headquartered in Camp Hill, PA, NFP employs more than 1,000 individuals and now operates 94 Planet Fitness locations in central Pennsylvania; Philadelphia; southern Delaware; greater Charlotte, NC; the Triad, NC; South Carolina; greater Cleveland, OH, and Akron-Canton, OH.
About Argonne Capital Group
Argonne Capital Group is a closely held private investment firm in Atlanta that seeks to make investments in middle market companies, including those in the multi-unit, multi-location restaurant, retail and service industries. Argonne also has a significant presence in multi-tenant retail real estate through its RCG Ventures platform. Unlike traditional private equity firms, Argonne independently capitalizes each investment, giving the firm complete flexibility in the types of transactions it pursues and an indefinite hold period for each asset. The firm has invested more than $850 million of equity since its founding in 2003. For more information, please visit: argonnecapital.com.
About Ares Management Corporation
Ares Management Corporation (NYSE: ARES) is a leading global alternative investment manager operating integrated groups across credit, private equity, real estate and strategic initiatives. Ares Management’s investment groups collaborate to deliver innovative investment solutions and consistent, attractive investment returns for fund investors throughout market cycles. As of September 30, 2020, Ares Management's global platform had approximately $179 billion of assets under management with more than 1,400 employees operating across North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. For more information, please visit aresmgmt.com.
Argonne Capital Group