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Whitbread to develop spa chain

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Whitbread is to boost its presence in the spa market with a stand-alone spa chain.

Already seeking sites – initially within the M25 – the group says it hopes to open around 12 pilot units and then if successful, develop them into a national chain under an as-yet unnamed brand.

A spokesman for Whitbread said the company sees itself as “pushing back the boundaries,” but is aware that significant business from the new venture is a long way off. “The spa market is definitely there but no one operator has really got hold of it,” they said.

Whitbread already has experience in the market through its spas within some of its Marriott hotels and its David Lloyd Leisure health clubs – most of which have health and beauty salons.

Matthew Lynwood, the Whitbread executive leading the site search, said the spa sector was in the same position as the fitness club market ten years ago. “We see a real opportunity to get in on the ground floor in a sector that in the US has almost outstripped health and fitness in terms of revenue.”

According to the IHRSA, Mintel International and the ISPA, the US spa industry has risen in value from $2.2bn in 1997 to $10.7bn in 2001 and an estimated $14.0bn last year.

Whitbread is sourcing sites of around 15,000sq ft, ideally in surburban locations with parking. Details: Matthew.lynwood@whitbread.com

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Whitbread is to boost its presence in the spa market with a stand-alone spa chain.
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