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Exclusive: Fitness First Germany sale decision expected ‘in weeks’

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A decision on the proposed sale of Fitness First’s 80 health clubs in Germany is expected to be taken in the next “couple of weeks,” Health Club Management can reveal.

Having recently announced an £86m (US$130m, €110m) investment as part of the global health club chains ongoing transformation, CEO Andrew Cosslett said talks to offload the German gyms are ongoing among the various stakeholders, but stopped short of predicting a likely outcome.

“We’ve said we’d look at a sale in Germany so that we can free up capital to get on faster in higher growth areas,” said Cosslett.

“It’s a strong business so there’s been lots of interest. There are a number of stakeholders involved and I think a decision is a couple of weeks away.”

The Germany clubs represent the company’s last European portfolio outside of the UK – following the offload of its 91 clubs across France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands to Dutch operator HealthCity in 2010/11 – and their sale marks the final act in Fitness First’s shift towards being a UK, Australia and Asia-focused business.

The Oaktree Capital-owned gym chain has been exploring the disposal of its German arm – speculated to be worth around £200m (US$323m €253m) – for a number of months. The portfolio has around 300,000 members and EBITDA of around €30m (US$38.3m £23.7m) per annum.

The capital expected from the Germany deal will allow the chain to speed up its £270m global makeover, which has already brought encouraging revenue results to a number of its city health clubs. The funds will also serve to expedite Fitness First’s major expansion in Asia – where it aims to open up to 50 new clubs in five years – and support R&D ahead of the chain’s planned forays into the technology sector, with a digital platform for fitness and nutrition expected to enter the testing stage in the next couple of months.

To read an exclusive interview with Fitness First CEO Andrew Cosslett – from the March edition of Health Club Management magazine – click here.

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A decision on the proposed sale of Fitness First’s 80 health clubs in Germany is expected to be taken in the next “couple of weeks,” Health Club Management can reveal.
CEO Andrew Cosslett is leading Fitness First through an extensive transformation

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