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Budget gym boom can benefit mid and premium market, says Bannatyne MD

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The continued rise of Budget gyms doesn’t spell the end for mid and premium market operators, according to Bannatyne Group managing director Justin Musgrove, who says the pulling power of low cost sites can bring benefits for everyone.

The rise of the budget sector, led by heavyweights such as Pure Gym and The Gym Group, has been cited as a key factor in the erosion of the traditional mid-market. In the past year, LA fitness has been acquired by Pure Gym while Fitness First has also been put up for sale, as mid-market powerhouses have seen their share ‘salami-sliced’ by competition from budget gyms and boutiques.

Despite this, Musgrove says that Bannatyne’s has been reaping the benefits of the budget gyms’ ability to ‘widen the pool’ of gym users through low prices and frictionless sign-up processes. Budget chains such as The Gym Group have stated that more than a third of their members have never joined a gym before, and this has been reflected by the total number of UK gym users hitting a record high of 8.78m in the latest State of the UK Fitness Industry Report.

“Much is made of the threat to the mid-market from budget gyms, but actually their ability to widen the market and bring in new faces has been very beneficial for our business,” Musgrove told Health Club Management.

“New members – particularly students – can now afford to join a gym and become familiar with the fitness environment from an earlier age. Then, as they progress in life and their career, they aspire to a higher level of service. They want their gym to have a pool, a steamroom and premium facilities, so they trade up to clubs like ours.”

Mindful of the need to maintain this distinction in service, Musgrove is currently overseeing a major refurb of the 60-strong Bannatyne estate as part of a move to reposition the chain as an upmarket operator. The new philosophy also sees heightened focus on customer experience, improved technology and smarter use of the synergies between our health club, spa and hotel arms of the business.

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The continued rise of budget gyms doesn’t spell the end for mid and premium market operators, according to Bannatyne Group managing director Justin Musgrove, who says the pulling power of low cost sites can bring benefits for everyone.
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