July 2024: Special issue
David Stalker joins Alliance Leisure

05 Jun 2024

Leisure development specialist, Alliance Leisure, has appointed industry veteran, David Stalker, as advisor to the board, as the company aims for £150 million turnover next year.

Founded by Sarah Watts 25 years ago – while on maternity leave – Alliance Leisure has delivered more than 250 projects, with an investment value of over £370 million.

Watts originally spotted the opportunity to help the public sector get access to finance to make revenue-enhancing changes, such as changing a squash court into a gym and providing a support team to ensure the investment paid off.

In 2004, the company pivoted to become a development partner, working with local authorities to create commercial propositions, such as putting in spas, tenpin bowling, clip and climb, high ropes and TAGactive. The company is also the development partner of Denbighshire Leisure’s UK Leisure Framework, working with local authorities to deliver commercially viable facilities and managing the builds.

Interviewed in HCM earlier this year, Watts talked about how Alliance Leisure has been boosting its board, saying: “I turn 60 in 2024 and although I don’t like to talk about succession planning, we are upskilling the team and elevating our development board to help drive the business forward.”

On Stalker’s appointment, Watts says: “His extensive knowledge, experience and strategic vision will be invaluable to our senior team. His support will help ensure our continued success as we guide Alliance through its next phase of growth, with a goal of reaching £150 million in turnover next year.”

Having held a number of high-ranking positions in the health and fitness industry, Stalker is one of its best known names. He presided over the Fitness Industry Association becoming UK Active, uniting the industry with a 2010 Commission which set out the future of the organisation and brought together CLOA, local authorities, trusts and the private sector.

Stalker was also the founding chair of CIMSPA (Chartered Institute Management Sport and Physical Activity) and currently serves as president of EuropeActive, as well as being CEO of Myzone EMEA and CEO of Lampton Leisure.

Former roles include group brands and marketing director at Leisure Connection, managing director of Harpers Fitness Clubs and chair of Fit for Sport. He was also founder of Oxygen Freejumping with Fred Turok.

“Sarah is probably the most talented business person in our sector,” he says. “Alliance is a trailblazing company, known for its innovation and breaking new pastures and it has an impressive team.”

Stalker says his strengths lie in diplomacy and in driving initiatives and engaging people on the journey: “I have extensive experience across all aspects of our industry, from supplier to operator and local authority to our chartered institute. I have a deep understanding of its direction.

“As I transition to new roles, my priority is to collaborate with people I like and respect, and most importantly, to work with organisations that have the potential to significantly impact the nation’s health and enhance the quality of our industry.”


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