Martin Long, CEO of DW Fitness First, says cash crisis is looming
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Martin Long, CEO of DW Fitness First, says cash crisis is looming

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Martin Long, CEO of DW Fitness First, has called on the government to speed up the payment of furlough support.

Long told the BBC that the business normally turns over £15m a month, but that this has fallen to zero, leaving no cash to fund the company's £3m wage bill in April. “The money isn’t coming in quickly enough,” he said.

Most of DW Fitness First's 3,000 staff have been furloughed, but Long says the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme won’t be set up in time to help.

The operator has an estate of 120 gyms across the UK. All are currently closed.

“Ultimately, you’ve got to run a business with no income and no knowledge of when the income is coming, because you don't know when you're going to reopen,” said Long.

“And even when you do reopen, it's likely you'll have fewer members.”

DW Fitness First had revealed plans to become "UK’s largest sports participation brand," integrating its retail and health club operations to create a seamless consumer service.

UKActive has said difficulties getting loans and delays in accessing the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme could mean more than a third of UK gyms and leisure centres collapse.

“We're just weeks away from the closure of up to 2,800 fitness and leisure facilities, which play a crucial role in supporting the health and wellbeing of our communities,” said CEO, Huw Edwards.

That would threaten 100,000 jobs in a sector worth £7.7bn a year to the UK economy.

UKActive said some gym and leisure centre operators may only survive another five weeks as rent bills continue to mount.

“If our leisure facilities are lost, it will be incredibly difficult to rebuild them and any recovery will be extremely slow and painful,” said Edwards.

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Martin Long, CEO of DW Fitness First, has called on the government to speed up the payment of furlough support.
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