European News: Migros, EasyGym, and London Boutiques

Migros’ portfolio grows in Germany with a new acquisition, easyGym heads to France, and all eyes are on the London boutique scene.

The fitness industry in Europe continues to show robust growth, with Migros’ acquisition of Greinwalder & Partner, easyGym reaching over the channel into France to open seven new locations, and data showing how lucrative London’s boutique market has become.

Migros Expands in Germany with Purchase of Greinwalder

Migros Freizeit Germany (MFG), a multifaceted Munich-based fitness firm with operations in three European countries, increased its presence in the German market earlier this year with the acquisition of Greinwalder & Partner, a marketing and business consultancy for fitness, health, and boutique facilities.

MFG’s portfolio includes seven premium Elements Fitness and Wellness studios in Germany; the INJOY franchise brand, which has more than 150 studios in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland; and the INLINE consultancy.

The company is a subsidiary of Migros Cooperative, Switzerland’s largest retailer and supermarket chain. The merged entity made its debut earlier this year, under the name Migros Cooperative Zurich ACISO.

ACISO, which unites the sales and consulting staffs of both companies to create a nationwide team, now consists of three business units, encompassing its own studios, franchise systems, and ACISO Fitness & Health Consulting.

Stephan Pfitzenmeier, the CEO of INLINE for the past two years, initiated the takeover of G&P, but chose to leave the company following the merger. Oliver Sekula, the CEO of Greenwalder, will serve as the CEO of the new entity.

EasyGym, the U.K. Club Chain, Enters the French Market

Article image

EasyGroup Holdings, Ltd., based in London, owns and licenses more than 40 brands throughout Europe. Prominent among them is easyGym, the low-cost U.K. club brand, which has now crossed the Channel to make its debut in France.

Two French entrepreneurs, Guillaume Leblay and Guillaume Garcia, who acquired the exclusive easyGym license for the country, have tweaked the business model and opened seven clubs in southwest France in the first quarter of this year. They intend to begin franchising in the second half of 2019.

Leblay and Garcia have tailored the concept’s value proposition to enhance its appeal in the French market. Their clubs, for instance, offer Les Mills group X classes and HIIT training sessions conducted by a personal trainer, programs not normally offered by low-cost providers.

Its facilities are open 24 hours a day—a quality that has proven to be a differentiator for easyGroup.

“The fact that we’re open 24 hours allows us to reach the portion of the population that works at night, including people in the security, delivery, or medical sectors,” Leblay says. “These individuals come to work out before or after work, which evens out the flow of members. This is a plus that clearly sets us apart from the competition.”

This news brief was provided courtesy of Planet Fitness Management France.

Investors are Betting on London’s Boutique Fitness Brands

Article image

In 2018, boutique studios were the fastest-growing fitness segment in London, according to a report published by Leisure Database Company Ltd. By year’s end, there were 278 boutique operations in the city, including 114 HIIT, 111 mind-body, and 53 CrossFit studios.

Altogether, they offered Londoners more than 15,800 classes per week.

The growth in the number of facilities is being driven in part by growing investor interest. Crowd funding has generated approximately $13 million to help brands such as BLOK, 1Rebel, Boom Cycle, and Core Collective to expand. Established investment firms that have fueled growth with some $24.4 million include Codex Capital (which has backed 1Rebel); Pembroke VCT (Boom Cycle); Piper (Frame); and Encore Capital (Another Space).

Cyclebar, supported by Snap Dragon Cap, will be the first boutique brand to debut this year, opening a studio next to the new U.S. Embassy.

Master franchisees are now being selected to expand all of these brands throughout Europe.

Private investments from niche players, including celebrity athletes, industry veterans, and established local and international franchise operations, also are accelerating growth in the sector.

Author avatar

Florian Cartoux @florian_cartoux

Florian Cartoux is director of the IHRSA European office in Brussels, Belgium. He's is in charge of growing IHRSA's membership in Europe, and attendance at IHRSA events. Being fluent in French, German, and English, Florian spends the best part of his time visiting the four corners of Europe meeting members and prospects. In his spare time, he tries to find time to play the drums, and be a good dad with his two daughters.