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Pure Gym wins race to acquire LA Fitness

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Pure Gym has emerged as the victor of the long-running race to acquire LA fitness.

The gym chain helmed by Humphrey Cobbold has been in the running to buy the business, alongside Fitness First, Sports Direct Fitness and Terra Firma Capital.

Pure Gym confirmed this morning that it has completed the acquisition of LA Fitness and its 43 fitness clubs, for a sum thought to be in the region of £60-80m. The acquisition was backed by Pure Gym owner CCMP Capital Partners and a number of banks.

Having been foiled by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) during last year’s failed merger with The Gym Group, Pure Gym stressed that the businesses will be operated independently until the CMA gives Pure Gym permission to proceed with the takeover.

LA fitness boasts an enviable property footprint in London with 22 sites, including two ‘premiumised’ LAX clubs, so the acquisition is a natural step for Pure Gym, which has long had desires of a stronger presence in the capital.

Pure Gym CEO Humphrey Cobbold told Health Club Management that the company’s plans to convert most of the LA fitness portfolio into Pure Gym sites – despite the disparity in proposition – wouldn’t be an insurmountable challenge. He pointed to the former LA fitness sites in Cambridge and Poole which have been converted into Pure Gym sites as evidence of this.

“We’ve done conversions like that before where we’ve repurposed clubs, knocked down walls and converted fitness spaces as is necessary, so I don’t think it will be a problem,” he said.

“Membership fees will be in line with Pure Gym value – which we would class as outstanding – but our price structure is localised across the business (ranging from £12 up to £26.99), so clearly the economics in London are different to those in other areas of the country.”

Cobbold praised the efforts of LA fitness CEO Martin Long and his team, commending them on doing a “great job in difficult circumstances.” He said that they would fully support the transition, with a view to then stepping out of the business, but added that there are still discussions to be had.

Cobbold also said that no decision had been taken on staffing at the LA fitness sites, but noted as the new business moves forward and continues its expansion plans there would be numerous openings and opportunities.

Reflecting on the sale, LA Fitness CEO Martin Long said the business is trading well and has been able to build momentum in the wake of its CVA (company Voluntary Arrangement).

“This is the result of exceptionally hard work by all of our teams, during a period of uncertainty and we are pleased to have secured a new-long term owner in Pure Gym,” he said.

“This transaction, will give users of LA Fitness access to high-quality fitness centres through a network of existing and new gyms. I am confident that our facilities and members will benefit from Pure Gym’s investment and attractive proposition.”

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Pure Gym has emerged as the victor of the long-running race to acquire LA fitness.
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John Treharne, CEO, The Gym Group
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