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Digme founder dismisses 'collapse' rumours – but restructure will see two studios close

Digme co-founder Caoimhe Bamber has described a recent Daily Telegraph article which claimed the chain was on the verge of collapse as "misleading"
Bamber told HCM the boutique operator was undertaking a restructuring process
The plan will see Digme scale down the brand's portfolio and focus on a hybrid model
The chain will continue to operate four of its six studios
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Caoimhe Bamber, co-founder of Digme fitness, has described a recent Daily Telegraph article which claimed the chain was on the verge of collapse as "misleading".

Speaking exclusively to HCM, Bamber said the boutique operator was undertaking a restructuring process that would see it scale down the brand's portfolio and to focus on a hybrid model.

As part of the plan, the chain will continue to operate four of its six studios.

Digme, alongside many other city-centre boutique fitness operators, have been hit hard by the pandemic – and more recently the government's "Plan B" announcement in December 2021, which included guidance for people to work from home again due to Omicron.

"We've decided to undertake a restructuring process in which we will reduce the studio footprint from six to four studios in London," Bamber told HCM.

"A commercial decision has been taken to reduce the size of our central London footprint to align with the reduction in foot traffic in central London.

"While demand for fitness services remains strong, the huge rise in working from home has had a profound and lasting impact on commuter traffic into central London.

"This has significantly impacted office occupancy and demand for services located around offices.

"Following the restructuring and recapitalisation process, Digme will continue to operate and invest in four studios – Richmond, Moorgate, Bank and Covent Garden and our online platform, Digme at Home.

"We will continue to drive our successful omnichannel fitness strategy through hybrid memberships, offering members both unlimited classes in-studio and online, with a wide range of Cycle, HIIT, Yoga and other types of wellness classes to choose from."

Digme launched its own, branded at-home fitness offer in October 2020.

In January 2020, just before the pandemic hit, Digme acquired Another Space – the boutique studio arm of premium health club operator Third Space. The deal included Another Space's two London sites in Covent Garden and Bank with both of these making the cut.

The chain has come in for additional scrutiny in the UK's national press due to the fact that Akshata Murty, wife of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, is an investor in Digme.

The refinancing of Digme is one of a number of changes occurring in the pay-as-you-go London studio market, with HCM being aware of other operators who are refinancing or working on MBOs or pivoting to membership models for greater financial stability.

JOIN THE DEBATE

Will the pandemic see the end of the pay-as-you-go boutique studio model, with operators moving to adopt memberships for more assured income streams?

Join the HCM debate on this topic by emailing [email protected]. We will publish a curation of comments.

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Caoimhe Bamber, co-founder of Digme Fitness, has described a recent Daily Telegraph article which claimed the chain was on the verge of collapse as 'misleading'.
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