European operations helped PureGym survive losses of £4m a week during lockdown
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European operations helped PureGym survive losses of £4m a week during lockdown

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PureGym's operations in Europe have helped the business through the UK lockdown, according to CEO Humphrey Cobbold.

In 2019, PureGym acquired Danish operator Fitness World, which has more than 230 gyms and around 600,000 members in Denmark, Poland and Switzerland, where gyms have already reopened.

In an interview with the BBC, Cobbold said revenues from Fitness World have helped PureGym survive the effects of the UK lockdown.

"During the period we've been closed in the UK, we've been able to bring in £20m-£30m from operations in Switzerland and Denmark, he explained.

"That buys you an extra eight weeks – time really is money in this sort of situation."

PureGym has more than 260 sites and 1 million members in the UK, generating revenues of around £500m each year when trading.

Since the lockdown measures in March, the chain has been losing an estimated £4m a week.

"We went from a very successful, highly revenue-generating business to zero revenue – literally overnight," Cobbold told the BBC.

He said one of the motives for acquiring Fitness World was to diversity operations – a decision that has proven to be shrewd.

"One of the parts of the rationale for the transaction was the geographic diversity," Cobbold said.

"That's a good thing, generally, because it means you're not entirely exposed to the economics and situation in one country.

"I didn't expect it to play out in quite the way it did, with a global viral shutdown and then these markets opening before others, but I guess it's proof of that same idea – that diversity in a business portfolio is never a bad thing."

In addition to its international estate of gyms, Fitness World also has its own sports nutrition brand, Functional Nutrition, and a bespoke member fitness app.

In 2018 Fitness World had revenues of £175m and EBITDA of £38m.

The combined PureGym/Fitness World group has made PureGym Europe's second-largest gym operator, with more than 500 sites – second only in size to Basic-Fit.

Earlier this year, PureGym revealed it’s trialling a franchise offering to grow the brand globally.

• To see the BBC interview with Cobbold in full, click here.

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PureGym's operations in Europe have helped the business through lockdown, according to CEO Humphrey Cobbold.
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