Community Leisure UK ezine
September 2021
Alun Peacock "Xercise4Less deal accelerated JD Gyms' growth plans by three years"

05 Jul 2021

The growth of budget health club chain JD Gyms has been accelerated by "at least three years" thanks to the company's acquisition of Xercise4Less during the pandemic.

JD Gyms bought the Xercise4Less estate out of administration in July 2020 – just a few days before the first lockdown ended – adding 50 clubs to its portfolio.

Combined with steady organic growth and via the acquisition of additional sites from Ben Dunne, Helio Fitness, DW Fitness, the company now operates 74 gyms – a rapid expansion from the 11 it had four years ago (June 2017).

Speaking exclusively to HCM in the latests edition of the magazine, Alan Peacock, JD Gyms MD, said the decision to acquire Xercise4Less – a potentially risky move in the middle of a pandemic – was an easy one to make.

"We’ve explored many potential acquisitions over the years, but have always been very selective in what we’ve actually taken through to completion," Peacock told HCM.

"Of the 30 sites we were operating by the time lockdown hit in March 2020, 26 had been built organically.

"We have to be absolutely confident any acquisitions will dovetail well into the unique product we build.

"I’ve long admired aspects of the Xercise4Less model and recognised its success over the years. We’d heard whispers of the business experiencing difficulty, so when this was confirmed and it came on to the market, strategically, we were determined to get it.

"Although underinvested by the time it came up for sale, we were attracted to the strong locations and large sites; we were confident they would work for the JD Gyms product.

"There were lots of other great raw factors too for the majority of sites: big studios, large car parks and excellent property deals, alongside high member numbers and strong awareness.

"We knew that in remodelling these sites and applying JD Gyms’ magic dust, we’d enhance the member experience and be able to grow the yield accordingly.

"The acquisition of Xercise4Less has accelerated our growth plans by three years and has given us a strong presence in Scotland, as well as a footprint in south-east England.

"It’s bolstered us across Wales, the North West, North East, the Midlands and Yorkshire too.

"In bringing the business back out of administration, a number of poorer performing, unprofitable Xercise4Less sites needed to be released.

"Coincidentally, the majority of these overlapped geographically with our existing estate.

"Having acquired 50 sites, we immediately closed 11, consolidating those members into their local branch of JD Gyms."

• To read the full interview with Peacock – in which he also outlines how to company responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and the "complete transformation" of the company's business model, click here.


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North East & Yorkshire Regional Meeting
14 September – 12:30pm
Wales Members' Meeting
14 September – TBC
North West England Regional Meeting
21 September – TBC
South East England Regional Meeting
23 September – TBC
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CLUK UK-wide Culture Special Interest Group
7 September – 1pm
Chairs and Trustees Special Interest Group (England & Wales)
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