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New David Lloyd club is revamped Virgin Active

David Lloyd Leisure (DLL) has opened its new Cricklewood Lane club in London.
The club was formerly owned by Virgin Active and is the 126th in the DLL portfolio.
The acquisition was part of DLL’s post-lockdown M&A strategy to drive European expansion.
The property is undergoing a three-phase redevelopment programme.
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David Lloyd Leisure (DLL) has opened a new club in Cricklewood Lane, London. The launch completes phase one of a £5.25m redevelopment initiative that forms part of the company’s mergers and acquisitions strategy.

The site was formerly owned by Virgin Active and the acquisition is part of DLL's plan to open 40 more clubs in the UK alone.

“We’re delighted to be open and welcoming our very first members to David Lloyd Cricklewood Lane,” said GM, Jo Miller. “We believe they'll be thrilled by the state-of-the-art gym and superb group exercise facilities.”

DLL’s recent slate of asset acquisitions was built on the operator’s strong recovery from the pandemic, which saw record membership levels and a return to pre-COVID numbers by July 2021. A strategic management reshuffle to leverage post-pandemic opportunities in the market swiftly followed with COO Russell Barnes taking over the role of CEO from Glenn Earlam, who became executive chair. Barnes has been focusing on the “bounce back” and Earlam on acquisitions.

In an exclusive interview with HCM, Barnes explains how the company has three main priorities: bounceback, digital progression and asset acquisition.

“Coming out of the pandemic, lots of companies find themselves having to let go of assets to keep their core business afloat,” he explained. “This provides an opportunity for M&A the likes of which we probably haven’t seen, nor will see again, in our working lifetime. DLL, therefore, has a chance to accelerate its growth – but, as with bounce back, that requires effort and clarity of ownership.”

Phase one of the revamp of the club includes the addition of fitness machines with interactive screens, Woodway Curve treadmills, Concept 2 rowing machines, Watt Bikes, Octane Ellipticals and Ski Ergs. Free weights and weight resistance machines are also provided, as well as dumbbells, barbells, weight plates, kettlebells, benches and lifting platforms. Personal trainers for individual training and group sessions is available, with programmes including cycling, Reformer Pilates and Blaze – DLL's own-brand HITT class which uses treadmills, strength and combat equipment.

With phase two at Cricklewood Lane now underway, DLL will open the Clubroom, restaurant and indoor pool facilities by summer 2022. Adult and family swimming sessions are scheduled and parents can take advantage of after school and holiday clubs that are programmed alongside workouts.

Miller says “community sits at the heart of David Lloyd clubs”. Families exercising together is another pandemic trend DLL has leveraged to attract members. Last year the operator ramped up its family-oriented programming with the introduction of family HIIT class Blaze Rebels. Designed for children aged eight or above, it comprises 35 minutes of cardio and strength training to a music playlist specially created for the session.

Phase three, a luxury spa retreat, is due to be completed by Autumn 2022. Amenities will include a hydro pool, Finnish sauna, salt sauna, steamrooms and cold plunge pool.

Cricklewood Lane becomes the 126th David Lloyd, with clubs spread over nine European countries across three brands David Lloyd Clubs, Harbour Clubs and Meridian Spa and Fitness in Germany.

Although some DLL clubs were greenfield locations, the company has been favouring growth by acquisition in recent years and has taken on Virgin Active sites before, having acquired 14 in 2018.

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David Lloyd Leisure (DLL) has opened a new club in Cricklewood Lane, London. The launch completes phase one of a £5.25m redevelopment initiative that forms part of the company’s mergers and acquisitions strategy.
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