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ARK Leisure founders return with ‘Dragons’ Den-like’ investment venture

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Andy Kay and Mhairi FitzPatrick, the pair behind ARK Leisure and London’s 37° health clubs, have launched a new leisure-focused funding venture called Socius Investing.

Described as “bearing a passing resemblance to Dragon’s Den,” Socius sees Kay and FitzPatrick investing money for an equity stake in a business, then working with the owners to change strategy and bring about accelerated growth.

“Our focus is on the leisure sector because that’s where our experience and know-how lies,” said FitzPatrick. “It would be far too grand to liken us to Dragons – we do invest our own cash but most importantly we bring hands on expertise backed up by considerable experience.

“Working together, Andy and I have launched successful self-funded start ups and have also secured multi million pound investments with venture capital backing. It’s this experience we want to use to help leisure businesses grow.”

Kay told Health Club Management that initial contact from businesses interested in teaming up with Socius comes via its website, as well as through Twitter, Linkedin and informal industry contacts.

“People I meet often say “I know someone who should to talk to you” and it goes from there,” he added. “Since we launched, we have had just over one new business per week approaching us.”

Socius recently made its first investment in Proinsight Research – a leisure industry customer insight business. Formed in 2010, the company offers bespoke mystery shopping, benchmarking and research services.

Socius is expecting to secure its second investment June 2014 and its owners say they are actively looking for more investment opportunities in the leisure sector.

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Andy Kay and Mhairi FitzPatrick, the pair behind ARK Leisure and London’s 37° health clubs, have launched a new leisure-focused funding venture called Socius Investing.
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