International fashion, business, and finance may revolve around cities such as Paris, New York, and London, but with three-quarters of the earth’s population within a five-hour flight time, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) really is the center of the world, suggests CEO Ahmar Azam and acting chairman Ali Al Sagri of the Leejam Sports Club Company.
Leejam is already the largest health and fitness provider in the KSA, operating its fitness centers under the Fitness Time brand, but its ambitions and objectives are much grander. Al Sagri intends to transform Leejam into one of the 10 largest club operators in the world, as well as the employer of choice in the KSA, within the next three years.
“When I joined the company in 2014, we had approximately 40 fitness centers, and today, we have more than 160 locations,” says Azam.
A number of factors—some global and some local—seem to be aligning to make Leejam’s plans seem viable.
The fitness industry continues to expand internationally, and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight. And, says Al Sagri, “In 2017, the government of Saudi Arabia introduced Vision 2030, a package of socio-economic reforms that emphasizes quality of life. It focuses on promoting health behaviors, which loosened restrictions on women’s activities, including exercise.”
The same year, Leejam introduced a women-only club brand, and the following year, it conducted a dramatically successful IPO that raised $220.6 million.