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DW Sports swoops for all 62 UK Fitness First clubs

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DW Sports has become one of the largest health club operators in the UK in one fell swoop with the acquisition of Fitness First UK and its whole 62-club portfolio.

The deal will almost double DW’s current 78-club estate to 140 sites, although most significantly it will give the operator a foothold in the south of England which has proved elusive thus far.

Both organisations have declined to disclose the value of the deal.

Fitness First’s brand will be maintained, and the business will continue to be led by managing director Martin Seibold, who will “work closely” with Scott Best, managing director of DW Sports.

Owner and chief executive of DW Sports, Dave Whelan, highlighted Fitness First’s “significant investment in its brand portfolio” as a key factor in the deal, and committed his business to “continuing that investment” going forward.

As part of that investment, Best said that the chain was looking to install swimming pools in some of the larger London clubs.

However, DW only plans to retain 48 of the acquired sites in the long-term, and has exchanged contracts with other unnamed operators for 14 Fitness First sites that are “not core to its future plans”.

Among those thought to be in the hunt for the surplus sites are The Gym Group and GLL.

In early September, the former’s chief executive John Treharne told Health Club Management that it had “exchanged contracts on four sites from another operator”, but he declined to comment further on the deal.

GLL is also understood to be eyeing the clubs as it bids to expand on its 250-club strong portfolio.

“The acquisition of Fitness First will allow DW Sports to invest further in innovation, upgrading and maintaining the existing Fitness First sites,” said Best. “At the same time, we plan to invest in new openings for the brands and the continued refurbishment of our DW portfolio.”

Seibold added: “We are proud to have transformed Fitness First over the past four years and delighted to see the brand retained by DW Sports, which is both a well-known and highly respected UK fitness operator.”

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DW Sports has become one of the largest health club operators in the UK in one fell swoop with the acquisition of Fitness First UK and its whole 62-club portfolio.
Whelan (left) and Best (right) said they would invest in the clubs to maintain and improve their quality


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