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John Lewis dismisses reports of planned gym concept

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Retail giant John Lewis has poured cold water on speculation that it is planning a push into the gym market.

Local media reports suggested the company was looking at a tilt into the gym sector, with a club to sit in the basement of a forthcoming department store in Cheltenham.

The Beechwood Place Shopping Centre in Cheltenham is due to be transformed into a £30m John Lewis department store and a planning application to convert the basement into a 2,947sq m (31,721sq ft) gym has been approved by Cheltenham Borough Council.

This led to reports that John Lewis was exploring a gym concept for the store, however a company spokesperson told Health Club Management the company has “absolutely no plans to expand into the gym market.”

It transpired that investment firm BlackRock – the landlord of the building – is behind the gym application. A BlackRock spokesperson told Health Club Management the firm is “not at a stage to share details just yet,” but will provide an update when the concept and operator of the gym have been finalised.

John Lewis is not the only retail giant to have been linked with a push into the growing physical activity market. Health Club Management revealed in June that Asda was planning to partner with gym operator Total Fitness for an in-store fitness concept, however the project has since stalled as Asda battles to arrest a retail sales slump.

Meanwhile, Sports Direct Fitness is already in on the act and has cross-marketed to a captive audience by combining gym and retail outlets in single locations.

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Retail giant John Lewis has poured cold water on speculation that it is planning a push into the gym market.
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