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Exclusive: Sports Direct assumes control of first health club

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Sports Direct International has today taken over its first health club – the former LA fitness site in Sale, Manchester – after a deal was finalised late last night.

The company founded by Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley was first rumoured to be planning a high-profile entrance into the health clubs sector last month, and a senior source confirmed the gym arm of the business will operate under the name Sports Direct Fitness.com.

Sports Direct has taken over the lease on the Sale site – one of the 33 put up for sale by LA fitness in March under company voluntary arrangements (CVA) as part of a restructuring plan to reduce debt – with further deals expected to be concluded in the next week or so.

Letters are understood to have been sent out to members of the Sale club this morning (18 June), advising of the change in operator, although membership terms are not expected to be affected at this stage.

“Continuity is important for members, so we’re delighted that Sports Direct are taking the Sale site forward and retaining all of the staff there,” an LA fitness spokesperson told Health Club Management.

“Obviously each club is individual, so discussions have been held with a number of operators, but with Sports Direct now set up to operate clubs, I wouldn’t be surprised if a few more deals were finalised in the next week or so.”

A spokesperson for Sports Direct confirmed the company took control of the health club last night, but was unable to provide further details at this stage.

The company is thought to be interested in the potential for synergy between gyms and the company’s existing operations. Sports Direct has over 600 sports stores in Europe, including 400 in the UK and also owns sports brands such as Dunlop, Everlast and Slazenger.

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Sports Direct International has today taken over its first health club – the former LA fitness site in Sale, Manchester – after a deal was finalised late last night.
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