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IPO will enable Pure Gym to ramp up consumer-focused technology, says chief executive

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Pure Gym will plough some of the money it raises from selling its shares into further developing its tech as part of a strategy to create new products and experiences for members and to future-proof its business.

The budget health club operator revealed yesterday (14 September) that it expects to formally float on the London Stock Exchange in mid-October.

In an exclusive interview, chief executive Humphrey Cobbold told Health Club Management that the £190m (US$250.8m, €222.7m) the business hopes to generate from the IPO will swap debt for equity to improve the balance sheet and will be spent on opening more gyms and further developing its in-house technology department.

The tech team will be charged with developing systems to deliver new membership packages and payment methods such as Apple Pay, as well as platforms designed to attract and retain members.

Cobbold said technology is crucial to an organisation like Pure Gym, which doesn’t have gym-based sales forces and uses tech platforms to support staff in managing member relationships.

He said Pure is extending its product range, using technology to create niche packages instead of just building differentiated real estate, much in the same way an airline creates different price points for flights and may charge less or more for different seats on a plane.

The company is trialling new categories of membership, such as off-peak and premium memberships and Cobbold said technology is helping prospective members make choices about how they want to use the gym.

“The predominant focus of our tech investment is improving the member experience and interaction with our current facilities, and informing the choices they make about what sort of membership they want and how they want to pay for it,” he said.

Cobbold suggested that Pure Gym is leading the way with technological innovation, making the organisation more nimble. For example, he said if Pure Gym wants to develop a platform or product, it's easier to trial it in a limited number of sites and then roll it out over its 167-club estate.

He added that using technology to handle administrative tasks enabled employees to focus on the member experience.

Before joining Pure, Cobbold had a strong career in technology-centric businesses. He was CEO of Wiggle – the UK-based online retailer of cycling and triathlon products, and also a former chair of Fish4, the recruitment advertising website, and director of strategic development for Trinity Mirror.

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Pure Gym will plough some of the money it raises from selling its shares into further developing its tech as part of a strategy to create new products and experiences for members and to future-proof its business.
Cobbold said investment in technology would free up staff to concentrate on 'member experience'


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